One limb, two limbs,
Three limbs, four?
How many limbs before
You knock on heaven’s door?

This was the decision we had to make concerning our mother.
Our mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease almost 19 years ago. The last 8 she was pretty much non-communicative and in a semi-conscious state. Recently her left foot and right fingertips began to become mottled and within three days time an ER surgeon was standing in front of me saying her leg and foot were dead. Here are the choices we were offered: to amputate to save the life or not amputate and let her die with her foot and leg becoming gangrenous. From her years of inactivity she now had advanced arterial disease. When asked bluntly he was honest; Yes, the hand and arm might have to be next. Would he do the surgery depending upon our decision? He hesitated and I could see him struggling with the ethical decision…do you put a woman in this state through a surgery to save a life that really isn’t a life? No, he would not put a woman in her condition through a whole leg amputation. I appreciated his frankness. I truly did.
You see, no one was offering us the choice we wanted. No…not to have her back as she once was. What we really wanted was the choice to end her life with a quick and easy needle jab so she could be free of drooling and pooping on herself and most certainly free of the pain of letting a leg rot off her body. However, it seems that my fellow citizens in the states of this country do not find that merciful. (Except Oregon…thank you Oregon!)
Do you know how destroying it is to hear the debate raging on about the most merciful way to put prisoners, people who have killed, maimed, raped, etc…to sleep or to see an ad about a vet’s office offering you and your pet tender care when you mercifully put your pet to sleep when there is no such help for you with your own mother? Do you ever think about what decision you would make about how many limbs to sever off your own mother? Can you picture your own children gathered over your bed debating how many limbs to cede or what not amputating was going to mean? Welcome to my family’s last week.
I do not write this letter simply from an emotional decision I had to face this week. I have wanted to end her suffering and indignities for years. I am fighting a sense of a deep and hurtful anger…hatred almost… of a system that allows us no other choices because we must live by someone else’s ideas of Deity and morals/ethics or under a system bought by large medical/pharmaceutical and religious entities. However, I do not carry enough anger to wish any you the same fate. No one…yes, even my own family…should ever have to be given only two choices in a matter like this. All I am asking for is choices…not for those who object to the idea to have to choose that way but for those of us who might want it to have it as a choice.
For those of you who will instantly say that we cannot be given the power to decide someone’s death…well, didn’t my brothers and I do just that when we chose not to allow them to begin hacking her into pieces? For those who say that given the right to choose euthanasia could mean abuses…how abusive is it to allow someone to rot to death? For those who say we can’t play God…whose God are you talking about, yours or mine? My God doesn’t sanction letting folks suffer when we have the means to end it. I am very sorry about the God you got stuck with.
I beg each of you to think of a loved one and the choice of one limb or two. Think about the choice of letting someone waste away year after year or letting them deal with pain that must be blocked by comatose levels of drugs. Decide if you really think that is merciful.
It IS time we have other choices. The population of folks struck with Alzheimer’s is going to boom in the years to come. That does mean you or someone you love could end up like my mother. This isn’t fallacy or fancy. It is a growing and ever present reality. It doesn’t have anything to do with the level of monies going out for the care of these people, though that will be staggering. It is about the GIFT of mercy and compassion. Please look at your loved ones and make some tough decisions about your ideas of mercy. Also consider that no action is inaction and therefore nothing changes. We need change to the current system! Neither of the choices my family had to make this week had much to do with mercy because the most merciful choice had been denied to us.

Update: On Sept. 12th at 11:35 a.m. my mother left this world. The hospice system was not able to keep her from gasping like a fish out of water as fluid filled her lungs. It was all so horrible and needless.

Author's Bio: 

Rose Campbell is a clairaudient channel for the world of Spirit with 20+ years experience. She has as well been a porponent for the rights of people to choose how they will leave their bodies when the time has come. Since her mother's death it is now her mission to get right-to-die issues and laws into the forefront of society's minds. Part of her spiritual work can be seen here: