Regarding "The Person Inside the Body" (Other Views, July 14), Patricia Williams really hit home. I have just watched my friend go through a horrible death after long suffering. She knew everything that happened to her right up to the last.
We who kept the vigil saw her slip into sleep after 10 days of pain and terrible fear, decided it would be OK to grab a snack together for a change and asked the nurses to call us in the cafeteria if anything happened and to please leave her alone when she was finally resting.
When the call came, we did not get to her room in time. We were shocked to see that she was not resting peacefully on her side as we had left her. Genie knew her condition was terminal cancer. She had made the decision to die with as much dignity as possible and asked to not have the emergency team go to work on her as Patricia Williams described in her article.
She had dropped into sleep. Why then did she look so terrified? Her head was thrown back, hands clenched and I will never forget the shock and terror in her eyes. What had happened? I had to know.
The nurses making rounds said they had "decided to change her position and suction out her throat as a routine measure." To end your life with a vacuum tube stuck in your windpipe and gagging for breath. Some routine.
I'm grateful to Williams for recognizing the person inside the body. I will always regret leaving my friend defenseless with less aware "angels of mercy."