One of the “outrageous fortunes” that can befall a man is to suddenly or slowly go from being strongly independent to unable to wipe your own ass.
The movie, Me Before You, based on a novel by Jo Jo Moyes tells the story of an very independent young man going from powerful, to pathetic, to rationally deciding to get help to end his life. Our hero had it all, wealth, good looks, a job taking over companies, good friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, supportive parents and a lust for extreme sports. Too bad that he was looking the wrong way when crossing a street. He didn’t see the motorcycle coming until it was too late.
Becoming paralyzed from the neck down sure did put a crimp in his high society style. So much so that he decided it wasn’t worth it to go on living.
Spoiler alert, the Me Before You screenplay pretty much spoils the book. My giving away some of what happens in the movie can’t spoil the film much more than it already is. So read on or maybe not, after all I don’t consider my self to be a good film critic.
Our hero, whose name is Will, tries to slit his wrists. He has the will, but lacks a way to get the job done. He learns that the non-profit organization DIGNITAS will do the deed at his bidding.
Will’s parents aren’t too keen on the idea, so Will agrees to give it at least six months to experience living as a “less than,” to see if it is better than nothing.
Will’s situation is a quadriplegics dream come true. His family is filthy rich. He has the best in medical management, adaptive equipment and attendant care. His mother doesn’t hide behind designer clothes, but rolls up her sleeves and provides hands on care when Will’s condition is at it’s worst. His Father is empathic and regards Will with compassion.
Then an attractive paid care giver falls in love with him to sweeten his situation.
As a social worker who provided counseling to men with quadriplegia, the above just about completes the wish list, outside of a miracle cure. At one point in the movie,Will lets on that he understands how many men could live a good life post tragedy, but not him. Even true love expressed in a tropical paradise resort isn’t enough to change his mind when the six months are up.
It is all to human to consider waste disposal approaches to individuals with severe disabilities. Why waste precious resources? Invest in greatness that it may become greater. Bring out the eraser for fortune’s unfortunate mistakes.
One of the best ways to adjust well to acquiring a disability is to have lots of money. Technological advances and the adoption of the Americans With Disabilities Act in the USA has made life a whole lot better for individuals with disabilities and the divide between rich individuals with disabilities and the rest, all the more painful.
What if you can’t afford the latest technology to get you out of bed and on the road to someplace interesting. What if one of your attendants isn’t beautiful and doesn’t fall in love with you? What if one of your attendants pretends to be in love with you to rip you off.? What if one of your attendants sexually abuses you, physically abuses you psychologically abuses you doesn’t show-up, shows up, but is lazy, steals your medication and anything of value they can get away with. Welcome to the reality of some of the dangers most men with quadriplegia are faced with daily.
In the USA if you need some help killing yourself, good luck with that. Although there has been progress in this regard.
One of my favorite labels that disability rights activists apply to those who are less than sympathetic to the cause is: “Temporarily Able Bodied.” All of us humans are TABs. Our bodies are going to go gradually or suddenly. There is no other option.
Me Before You raises the question as to wether an individual who lacks the physical means to kill themselves should be entitled to get help to get the job done.
What if an individual decides they don’t want to wait any longer for the cultural revolution needed to provide access for all severely physically disabled individuals to a decent standard of life?
The politics of suicide are interesting. When it comes to having a better sense of where you stand on the subject, I suggest you consider the three “S’s” of suicide: Sin, Society and Sanity.
Some are opposed to all suicide as a matter of religious belief.
Some consider suicide to be a crime against society, in that suicide deprives society of a resource and / or wrongly hurts innocent lovers, family and friends of the self inflicted deceased.
Some consider suicide to always be a form of insanity. The temporarily insane should not be supported in seeking a solution from which there is no turning back.
For many men suicide is always a form of cowardice, the ultimate lack of “balls.” A real man endures pain, fights for social justice for individuals with disabilities, sacrifices himself for the well being of others, by not giving up on life no matter how uncomfortable.
Prior to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease I often tried to put myself in the place of my clients with severe physical disabilities, as part of the process of having a better feel as to how they might be experiencing their condition. I knew that I could never come close to their experience, but if was an important part of my job to try. Accurate empathy is one of professional social workers most helpful tools.
Prior to my diagnosis, this writing that I am doing here would be primarily for abstract intellectual satisfaction, with hope that somebody might read it and find it helpful in stimulating their own contemplation on these matters.
Now its getting personal. My able bodiedness seems more temporary these days. When you have a diagnosis that is neurodegenerative, it can get you thinking while you still can.
Legal Protocols are available in a few States in the USA for physicians to help with the means for “offing” yourself. There has to be no hope for recovery. You need to appear to be very sane and very able to think clearly. You need to be able to be vigilant for folks that have something to gain from your nonexistence. You need to be at death’s door.
This means if you have a condition that could render you incapable of convincing others that you can still think clearly. That could render you physically incapable of killing yourself. That could take years and years and years to lead to your demise, you are presently “shit out” of luck with having someone legally giving you a hand in opening the door to whatever comes next.
Is it rational for me to want to leave this planet when I still know my own name? Is it rational for me to want to avoid my loved ones coming to visit a man who no longer knows who they are? Is it rational for me to prefer that resources not be utilized to keep me going when I no longer can remember anything about where I have been?
Presently I’m doing quite well thank you. I am loving life more than I ever have in my 64 years. I might not think as quickly as I once did, but some say I can still write. Nobody does anything extra for me yet, because of my disease. The medication is working well so far. My plan is for this to continue until I am 125 years old. Hey, I had a great-grandmother who lived to be 104.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts please reach out. You are not alone. Here are some resources.
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