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Bedwetting accidents: When parents kill...
Bedwetting is common in kids but, as the case of the Bloemhof man who beat a child to death for wetting herself shows, this normal phase can drive parents to kill. In this three-part series, Health24 takes a look at why this happens and finds that punishment for enuresis is all too real.
Seemingly harmless bedwetting by children can lead to brutal beatings and even death by the people who should be protecting and caring for them.
Cape Town mom Nuriya Dramat admits that she has resorted to spanking her five-year-old for wetting the bed. However, she admitted that the frustration of having to clean up the mess during the wee hours of the morning was what upset her most.
"I spanked her because I took her to the bathroom before going to sleep, but she still wet the bed," she told Health24 before quickly adding: "I spanked her, but not so much as to leave marks on her body."
Dramat added, though, that she normally only raises her voice in frustration and anger, rather than hitting her daughter.
Brutal tales of deaths over peeing
But, in other cases, bedwetting can lead to brutal beatings and even death.
South Africa was recently shocked by the fatal beating – allegedly by her mother's boyfriend – of a 5-year-old girl who suffered an episode of enuresis, the medical term for bedwetting.
Read: What a doctor would do if a child suffered from enuresis
The child allegedly wet herself while she was asleep on a couch in Boitumelong in Bloemhof, News24 reported on January 1 2016.
The urine seeped into the couch and the mom's boyfriend allegedly beat the girl so severely that police and paramedics declared her dead when they arrived on the scene.
Incidents like this are however not unique to South Africa.
A mother and her boyfriend in Orlando, Florida, beat her three-year-old son for over an hour in 2011 for wetting his pants, according to the Daily Mail. The couple proceeded to order a pizza and put on a DVD while the little boy struggled for breath and eventually died.
In 2014 horrific footage surfaced of a Chinese stepmother viciously beating a toddler because she wet herself. The footage showed how the woman whipped the little girl 87 times with a branch, kicked her 14 times, and slapped her eight times.
In the same year, the New York Daily News ran a story about a three-year-old girl in Brooklyn, New York City, who was beaten to death by her mother's 20-year-old boyfriend after accidentally wetting herself.
Closer to home, last year, in Zimbabwe, a 29-year-old man beat his four-year-old son so severely for soiling himself that he died two days later, according to News Zimbabwe.
The police said the father assaulted the boy with a number of objects, including a hot iron rod and a pellet gun on his buttocks, legs and hands.
In a study Assessment of domestic violence against children and adolescents with enuresis by MC Sapi et al, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in September 2009, the authors interviewed 149 patients diagnosed with nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting at night).
They found that 89% of subjects suffered either verbal or physical aggression when they wet their beds or leaked urine, with 50% being verbally punished and 48% physically punished. The study showed that the main abuser was the mother and that the risk was higher for children with less-educated parents.
Spanking only worsens the situation
Parents beating their children over bathroom accidents is not uncommon, said Joan van Niekerk, president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and consultant on child rights and child protection.
"Punishment is rarely – if ever – successful," she told Health24, adding that there are numerous incidents of bedwetting provoking violence.
"The problem is that this usually makes problems like bedwetting more difficult to manage as children become anxious. This interferes with sleep, and when children do manage to fall asleep they are so tired that they sleep through the messages their body is giving them in terms of the need to pass urine; or they hold on until they can no longer do so, and they lose control," Van Niekerk explained.
She said parents or caregivers sometimes failed to recognise the impact of shouting or punishment on this problem.
The types of bedwetting
Clinical psychologist, Dr Ian Opperman, explained to Health24 that, according to theory, there were two types of bedwetting: primary and secondary bedwetting.
"Primary means that bedwetting has occurred since early childhood without a break, where there is no period during which the child does not wet his/her bed.
"Secondary bedwetting is when bedwetting occurs after at least six months of not wetting his/her bed, and is usually caused by a stressor such as a sudden change, a psychological factor, a physical factor such as infection etc."
Dr Opperman, who is in private practice in Johannesburg and serves on the Executive Committee of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA), said that unless children wet themselves as an act of defiance when awake, bedwetting was an involuntary act which they are not responsible for.
"Children naturally gain bladder control at night, however, this occurs at different ages."
Read: Bedwetting stems from physical causes, not psychological
Although bedwetting can be a symptom of an underlying disease or infection, in most cases there isn’t always an underlying disease or infection to explain it, said Dr Opperman.
"This of course does not mean that children who wet their beds are doing so on purpose. Children who wet the bed are not lazy, naughty, or disobedient."
Why parents beat their children for wetting themselves
Dr Opperman explained that parents become frustrated when they are woken up at night to change wet sheets and pyjamas and some conclude that the child wets his/her bed out of laziness or naughtiness.
"Disciplinary action under these circumstances are unforgivable and dangerous", he warned. "The child is already humiliated by waking up in a wet bed and this feeling becomes worse with age."
Parents need to understand the condition in order for them to know how to deal with it, said Dr Opperman.
"Parents need to reassure their children that it is just an accident, be patient, and try to conceal the problem from those who would laugh at the child. In addition to this, an interesting fact is that bedwetting is reportedly inherited."
He went on to state that often parents who used to experience difficulties with bedwetting had children who went through the same experience. "Usually children stop bedwetting around the same time that their parents stopped bedwetting when they were children."
Dr Opperman advised parents to attend parental guidance workshops or therapy to help guide them through this phase of development.
Deflecting the real problem
"There are too many examples of horrific murders and criminal attacks blamed on bedwetting, which distract from the more important emphasis on the more common and concerning issue of psychological and milder physical abuse of these children," noted Professor Michael Simpson, Health24 CyberShrink.
"For me, child psychological and much physical abuse arises from a frustrated and angry parent who, after provocation by such incidents, reacts inappropriately and strikes out at the kid, physically or verbally."
He said there are many separate elements involved in these situations.
"A parent who is stressed by joblessness or financial stress, who themselves are feeling belittled by bosses and others, who is seething with rage, and at risk of striking out at the child not because the child caused the main problems but because they're handy, smaller, and even more powerless."
Read: Bedwetting can be due to undiagnosed constipation
Professor Simpson pointed out that there can also be a situation of a parent who wants to believe that they're a perfect parent; and when the child seemingly deliberately and provocatively wets their bed, feels that their image as a skilled parent is challenged, and they don't know how to deal with it.
"I suspect there are some parents so abuse-prone, with such a hair-trigger for reacting violently, that bedwetting is more than enough to switch them to attack mode."
However, he added that it abuse at the hands of parents is not always as specific as bedwetting, saying that a child neglecting their chores, or routine self-care, can also be enough to tip parents over the edge.
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What It's Like to Have Sex After Undergoing Female Genital Mutilation
Mariya Karimjee has had sex once in her life — sort of. When she was a senior in college, Karimjee, now 27, decided it was finally time to do the deed with her boyfriend of a year, even though he had repeatedly said he was willing to wait until she was ready. Though she never felt pressured to engage in more physical intimacy, she felt like she needed to have sex anyway — to "get the act over with," as she later described it.
So, Karimjee had sex. And, as she feared and expected, it was excruciating.
"The pain was everywhere; I couldn't figure out what hurt and where," Karimjee wrote of the experience in an essay for the Big Roundtable last year. "... I sat in the bed, allowing myself to cry for the first time since we'd begun talking about sex. For the first time since I'd admitted to him that I might never be able to enjoy a sexual experience. That when I was younger, someone had taken a knife to my clitoris and cut out a small but significant part of me."
As she went on to explain in recent episodes of This American Life and The Heart, when Karimjee was 7 and growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, she had part of her clitoris removed, in accordance with the beliefs of the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Islam. She is one of at least 200 million people around the world to undergo female genital mutilation, a practice the World Health Organization defines as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."
Also referred to as female genital cutting or female circumcision, FGM is widely considered an act of gender-based violence as well as a human rights violation, a practice typically performed on young girls (and, occasionally, female infants or teenagers) in a variety of cultures. WHO asserts that the practice "has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways."
WHO classifies the procedure into four primary types, each of which can have different effects on survivors' sexual health and comfort: clitoridectomy, which results in at least partial removal of the clitoris; excision, or a clitoridectomy plus removal of the labia minora; infibulation, which involves narrowing the vaginal opening by cutting and repositioning the labia (sometimes by stitching) with or without removing the clitoris; and all other harmful treatment of the female genital area, including but not limited to piercing, incising or cauterizing.
FGM is, in many societies, a long-standing cultural practice, which continues for reasons that vary from place to place and heritage to heritage. But, according to WHO, the procedure is generally tied to beliefs about acceptable sexual behavior, meant to deter promiscuity and strip women of erotic desire — or, potentially, enjoyment.
As Karimjee and millions of others have found, it can be extremely effective at doing just that.
"Sex did not go the way popular culture or anecdotal evidence told me it would go," Karimjee said in a phone call with Mic on Thursday, explaining the lasting effects her first experience had. She has not attempted to have sex since she first tried in 2010, primarily because of continuing anxiety about the experience.
"I gear myself up, but for me, the fear is so great that in the moment, I don't know if I feel anything but afraid," she explained. "I am not able to get out of my own head long enough to be able to be like 'I'm turned on.' That happens very rarely for me, and it takes months to feel comfortable enough."
In a phone call with Mic this week, Dr. Doris Chou, medical officer for the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, said research suggests women who are living with FGM "are more likely to experience pain or reduction in sexual satisfaction and desire," and, in addition to significant pain during intercourse, might face reductions in arousal, decreased lubrication during sex, limited capacity for orgasm or even anorgasmia.
Though people who undergo clitoridectomies, excision or infibulation can (and often do) still experience some amount of sexual pleasure, a majority have reported lower rates of arousal or sexual fulfillment — in studies, at least. Anecdotally, there's less information available about the realities of having sex — or not — after FGM, not to mention what that means for individual women's overall wellbeing.
"[There] are actually quite physical consequences, but there's also the psychological," Chou said. "We do know women and girls who have undergone FGM suffer anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. In the context of a sexual relationship, we are concerned that women might have difficulty really actually having any kind of sexual life."
The implications of that difficulty can be devastating, as illustrated by a growing number of women like Karimjee, who have begun to share their (often traumatic) experiences of developing, maintaining or even wanting sex lives with parts of themselves missing.
"I've spoken to women in my sect who have also been cut, who never, ever, ever want to have sex because they're so traumatized by what happened to them, and other women who have very vague memories but say they never get turned on, so it clearly worked," Karimjee said.
Indeed, much of the struggle with desire is due not only to the intense physical pain women who have been cut might experience during intercourse. Natalie Kontoulis, advocacy and communications officer for the organization End FGM, has found that for many people, it has to do with deeper, more complicated feelings about sexuality and personal autonomy.
"If a person who has undergone FGM is not in severe physical pain, she might not feel much — sensation might be gone," Kontoulis said via Skype on Thursday. "It can feel like you're a vessel, doing this to serve your partner, making sex less of a partnership. Some survivors feel they're not fully women. I think when you've literally had a part cut out of you, you cannot feel whole for those reasons."
There can also be lifelong trauma associated with being cut in childhood, Kontoulis added, which might be compounded by a lack of opportunity to talk about "how you were, potentially, betrayed at a young age by those you trusted most."
For quite some time that was true for Karimjee, who felt extreme rage toward her mother, in particular, for allowing her to be cut. After her family moved to the United States when she was 11, Karimjee went on to struggle with her parents' justification for the decision, which she believes was based on harmful cultural views about desire.
But those views were not necessarily unique to her sect of Islam or other groups that practice FGM. Karimjee has found that spending her adolescence in a conservative, predominantly Baptist Texas suburb contributed to her complicated feelings about her own sexuality.
"It's hard for me personally to reconcile the fact that my parents were fundamentally responsible for having me cut, but at the same time these were the same people who never made me feel sex was bad," Karimjee said. "My parents never made me feel like sex was something I needed to be ashamed of. But my peers in high school definitely got that from their churches and their parents, and transferred that on to me."
The combination of physical and psychological trauma from the overall experience of FGM can lead some women to pursue therapeutic options ranging from sex therapy (something Karimjee says she's looking into) or even clitoral restoration surgery.
According to Dr. Marci Bowers, a gynecological surgeon who works for the organization Clitoraid, restoration can be life-changing, but it's usually not enough. It's also not always an option: As Bowers said in a previous interview with Mic, although FGM is practiced around the world — including in the U.S. — a significant proportion of people who have been cut lack access to medical services like restoration.
"It's a tremendous thing if you're able to restore — it's like giving sight to a blind person," Bowers said by phone this week. "But anything associated with that part of the body, people remember that pain. Even where there's sensation, in an area where someone had pain before it's hard to retrain the brain to see any [non-painful] sensation as a positive sort of thing. It's hard to trust again."
And while FGM opponents like Kontoulis note it's still crucial to consider the practice an act of violence, it's also important not to tell someone she shouldn't feel good about sex if she never felt bad about it before.
"I've heard survivors say [their FGM] doesn't bother them, they still get pleasure from sex," Kontoulis said. "That might be physically absolutely true, or it might be that they just don't expect to have pleasure. It doesn't bother them. In that sense, it's difficult, because you don't want to impose your own kind of pleasure system or cultural system or sexual system on another person. But the problem with that is there's a line between trying to be culturally diplomatic and treating FGM as a human rights violation, and it's difficult to not cross it."
It's an issue that leaves Karimjee with complex feelings as well. She, too, has spoken with many women who have been cut but have not faced her same struggles with sex, yet still have lingering questions about whether they should feel satisfied.
"I personally have never spoken to anyone — even women who are married and having sex who've been cut, who say 'I don't know if I'm orgasming, but I do enjoy having sex with my husband' or 'I enjoy the act of sex, it doesn't hurt' — who doesn't also say, 'But I still wonder what it would be like,'" Karimjee said. "It's an ever-present question for them."
"In some way, they feel something was taken away from them — something intangible," she added. "As long as that feeling is still out there, there's definitely still a problem."
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Canada Moves To Equalize Age Of Consent For Anal Sex
11/16/2016 - Newnownext
Canada is set to repeal a section of its criminal code, which marks the age of consent for anal sex at 18 as opposed to 16 for vaginal intercourse.
The move was announced Tuesday morning by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould who said it was time to scrap the discriminatory and unconstitutional law.
“This section of the Criminal Code is discriminatory and the LGBTQ community has rightfully called for its repeal,” said Wilson-Raybould. “Our society has evolved over the last few decades and our criminal justice system needs to evolve as well. This legislation will help ensure that the system is keeping pace with societal change and continuing to meet expectations of Canadians.”
She added: “Diversity and inclusion have long been among the values Canadians embrace. Canadians expect their laws and their government to reflect these values.”
As it stands currently, Section 159 of the criminal code reads: “Every person who engages in an act of anal intercourse is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or is guilty of an offense punishable on summary conviction.”
The exceptions to the rule are straight married couples and any two consenting adults over the age of 18. LGBT rights groups have long called the law discriminatory, since the age of consent for vaginal and oral sex is 16.
The Ontario Court of Appeal famously ruled that Section 159 was unconstitutional in 1995, saying it “arbitrarily disadvantages individuals.” However, the bill has remained on the books and has continued to be enforced across the country. National LGBT charity Egale recently reported that between 2014-2015, 69 individuals were charged under the law.
In addition to the repeal of Section 159, the Canadian government made another recent stride toward equality when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Randy Boissonnault as his new, special LGBT adviser. Together, the two will work to eliminate discrimination and empower LGBT Canadians.
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A final selfie and a harrowing goodbye: The moving diary entries of the daughters who threw a hen party to pay for their mother to take her own life at a suicide clinic
Looking back on it now, they can understand the fuss. Who, after all, would plan a such a peerlessly inappropriate fundraiser? A ‘ladies’ night’ in Llanelli complete with drag queen and near naked waiters in order to send their own mother to Dignitas, the Swiss euthanasia clinic?
The public was bemused, the police were called and the event duly cancelled.
‘We felt quite stupid,’ admits Tara O’Reilly, who organised the party with her sister Rose Baker. ‘We were told we were breaking the law – encouraging suicide. But we weren’t thinking about any of that. We were just desperate.’ And with good reason. Their mother Jackie Baker, diagnosed with motor neurone disease, was declining fast. Months of agonising pain and uncertainty lay before them. Today, though, that terror has completely gone. For all the kerfuffle of the failed party and despite the months of misery that followed, the sisters feel only relief.
Three weeks ago, in a faceless trading estate on the outskirts of Zurich, their 59-year-old mother clicked a button with her toe and passed away, killed by a powerful cocktail of barbiturates, as she had wished.
And at last Rose and Tara are free to tell a story that will touch everyone who reads it – about the fear of the diagnosis, the turmoil of hearing their mother ask for Dignitas, and about their passionate belief in new laws to support assisted dying.
Jackie, who had lived close to her daughters in Morriston, a former tinplate and copper town near Swansea, had been a keen amateur photographer and musician. All that changed with the diagnosis back in February. Jackie’s own mother had died of the condition, so the three of them knew exactly what to expect.
A week later, Tara, 40, caught Jackie looking up ways to commit suicide on the internet. ‘I told her she was being ridiculous,’ Tara says. ‘Then she said she wanted to go to Dignitas. I had no idea what she was talking about.
‘I just thought, here we go, it’s one of Mum’s hippy trippy things. She said it would cost £8,000. She didn’t have a bean to her name. We didn’t realise it was even an option, like a dog being taken to be put down, really.’
Her sister Rose, 29, who works in a call centre, continues: ‘I hoped it was just a phase. It was so stressful that I had to stop working. How could I answer people’s questions about faults with their televisions when Mum was talking about killing herself?’
To raise the money, Tara, a hairdresser, decided on the £15-per-head ladies’ night, which soon came to the attention of the media – and the police. Two officers visited Tara at her salon after receiving a complaint from Care Not Killing, a group which opposes euthanasia and assisted dying.
They warned her that if the party went ahead, Tara and her guests could be prosecuted.
The event was cancelled – yet the publicity was what saved the family. Donations from total strangers poured in. One woman gave £2,000. Two Swiss bankers got in touch and offered to let the family stay at their house in Switzerland. Dignitas informed Tara that they offered a reduced rate for those in financial difficulty.
Earlier this month, Tara and Rose accompanied their mother on the gruelling 18-hour trip to Zurich and watched as she administered the fatal dose of drugs.
In September, Parliament rejected plans to enshrine the right to die in law in England and Wales, with 118 MPs voting in favour and 330 against.
Despite this, Tara and Rose are in no doubt when it comes to their own beliefs. ‘Our mother should have had an injection in her own home two months ago,’ says Tara.
‘But instead she had to travel for 18 hours in complete agony, sitting in her own urine. There’s a need for assisted dying and for the law to change. Our mum is proof of that.’
More than 160 Britons have taken their own lives at Dignitas in the past six years.
She could have had another year in pain,’ Tara continues. ‘It would have been selfish for us to keep her here. ‘When we actually got to Switzerland, there was a calmness. We knew we were doing the right thing.’
Not that it was in any way easy. Indeed, as this searingly honest and at times disturbing diary of their mother’s final journey makes clear, there can be no doubt at all of the desperation and the sheer humanity that drove them into the arms of Dignitas.
Getting the green light October 25, 2015
Tara: The email giving us a provisional green light came from Dignitas today. I was at the salon and then had to cut some poor woman’s hair.
I did think, ‘Thank God’, but there was a crushing feeling too. This is it. It’s all been a rush and now we’re going in ten days. Mum’s eyes lit up when I told her. She said she was over the moon. She can’t wait to go. I feel relief. She’s so ill and in so much pain. Every movement is like a knife going through her.
But it’s heartbreaking, too. I was just thinking about Christmas and how we’ll all be together as usual. But then I had the most gut-wrenching feeling because Mum won’t be here, will she? We’ll never have another Christmas with her.
Rose: Mum’s GP said she was too ill to fly. Part of me desperately wants Mum to change her mind but I know she never will. I said she could get the train but that it would be a long and painful journey. She doesn’t care. She just wants to go.
The last journey November 2
Tara: I’ve been playing Mum’s last moments over in my mind. I keep having visions of what her last words will be. I want them to be heartfelt but she has become so detached from us lately. I’ve been knocking myself out every night with a bottle of wine. I’ve been absolutely dreading today but now it’s here I feel strangely relieved and calm.
This morning Rose and I woke up at 3.30am to start the journey to Switzerland. When we got to Mum’s nursing home she was beaming, ready to go. There were no staff around. They’ve been warned not to get involved. We got a taxi to London at 4.30am. It was tough seeing her in the back in this huge wheelchair.
The driver was useless. He didn’t know the way and we missed the Eurostar. When we got to the station Mum was in such pain and kept crying out. One of the Eurostar managers told me he didn’t think she could travel. I’ve never felt so desperate until that moment. ‘We have to get on that train. We have to get to Switzerland,’ I told him. He knew what I meant. It was pretty clear by our distraught faces that we didn’t just want to do away with our mother.
He went to speak to someone higher up, came back and put us all on to the next train in first class. ‘I didn’t realise, good luck to you all and God bless,’ he said.
Rose: In Paris we missed the next train but managed to get on to a later one. We got to Zurich at about 11pm, 18 hours after we had set off.
The final countdown November 3
Tara: We went to see our Dignitas-assigned doctor at 8.30am in a Zurich clinic. This was not the place where you go to die. It looked more like a Botox clinic.
Everyone who goes to Dignitas must have two appointments, each on a different day. There was no ramp and the lift wasn’t fit for Mum’s wheelchair, so she was seen in a little corridor. The doctor was German and very matter-of-fact.
‘You want to die, Jackie?’ she asked Mum. She asked a few times. Mum just said, ‘Yes’ with no emotion.
Tonight is the happiest I’ve seen her since her diagnosis. She had Bob Marley on and was bobbing her head to the beat. She had her Complan food and her morphine. We had wine and pizza. She told me not to drink any more and to go to bed. She seemed scared that we wouldn’t get it right. She’s vulnerable and has put all of her trust in us.
Rose: It’s been a sad day, but we’ve tried to make the most of it. There have been lots of genuine I love yous and thank yous.
Mum’s last day November 4
Tara: It’s a lovely sunny day. Mum was going to wear her purple and yellow tie-dye dress, but decided on her more comfortable pyjamas because she’s ‘going to sleep’.
We got to Dignitas at about 9.30am, after seeing the same German doctor who again asked if she wanted to die. Now the taxi took us to an industrial estate. There were a few other units and a burger place next door.
They didn’t broadcast themselves. There was no sign: ‘Here’s Dignitas, drop-in only.’ We were struck by how down at heel it all looked. We were met by two of the clinic’s workers. The man must have been close to 80, he had a pierced ear and a pipe.
We walked straight into the room. It was like walking into somebody’s house. There was a hospital bed, an antique-looking dining table and chairs, an old stained rug, an old sofa and a painting that your nan might have had. There was a little window that looked out to the garden. There was no equipment. They brought that in afterwards.
Rose: I was trying desperately not to cry. But when we first got into the room, Mum said: ‘Thanks for getting me here.’ That started us both off. She said: ‘Don’t cry.’ There was no emotion to it.
We helped her into the bed with a hoist. They held a form up to her so she could sign it using a marker pen in her mouth. She gagged a bit.
Tara: I didn’t like watching that. It felt so final. It didn’t seem professional. The Dignitas lady was very happy. She offered us coffee before going over to Mum and taking her hand. ‘Jackie, do you want to die today?’ she said in a sing-song voice. Mum just said: ‘Yes.’ The woman added: ‘You’ll be out of your misery soon and in a better place.’ She told us Mum would go into a deep sleep and then a coma before her brain and all of her organs failed. I thought, bloody hell. It was so matter-of-fact.
Mum had to use her foot to push the button to release the poison. Nothing seemed modern or up to date. There was a big syringe that went into a little machine which was attached to a tube in Mum’s stomach.
Rose: We took a last selfie and then Mum was given an anti-sickness solution. It took 20 minutes to take effect. You couldn’t say goodbye properly. We just sat there not knowing what to do.
Tara: After 20 minutes they asked Mum if she wanted to say anything, but she didn’t even say goodbye. We said we loved her and were going to miss her. It wasn’t Mum at that point. She’d already gone. They told us not to touch any of the machines because we could get into trouble. They filmed the next bit. They said: ‘Jackie, when you’re ready, push the button.’ Mum did it straight away.
Rose: It didn’t take long, minutes really. She just stared through us and then went into a deep sleep and stopped breathing. Then she did a little snore, which made us laugh and cry at the same time. It was so Mum. We watched the blood drain from her face. We watched her take her last breath. It was peaceful really. We both kissed Mum goodbye for the last time and walked out into the winter sunshine. It was so hard to leave her there.
We went to a hotel and got drunk. I had flashes of her face at the end for the rest of the day. Neither of us had seen a dead body before.
The Aftermath November 5
Tara: We both felt absolutely lost. We’ve been pushing Mum’s empty wheelchair around like lost souls with people staring. It’s horrible, heartbreaking.
Mum wanted to be cremated. Dignitas have organised all of that. We flew back to Britain in silence.
There’s every chance that one of us or even both of us could get motor neurone disease. It’s in the family.
Mum was told there was a five per cent chance of her getting it. After seeing what it does, it is terrifying. I think about it every day. I’ve got a lump in my left hand and my first thought was it’s MND. I’m not sure if I could go to Dignitas or ask anyone to come and watch me die.
Rose: Why is agony acceptable but ending your life and your suffering is not? It was Mum’s choice, not ours. It has been a nice ending for her, in a way. Yes, it’s terribly sad and we’re both devastated, but we also feel a sense of relief that she got her happy ending.
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