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RIP Ramona – With Appreciation for The Lessons She Taught Us
Ramona – whose real name was Rosemary – has died. She did it (mostly) her way. I first shared Ramona/Rosemary’s story with you a few months ago. She had contacted me through my About.com work asking me to help her die. After a heinous surgical medical error many years ago, she could no longer be treated to provide (by her own definition) any quality to her life, so she wanted to put an end to her misery. Her primary care doctor, fearful he would be arrested, refused to help her. After thinking about it long and hard, I decided that determining our own time and place to die can might be considered the ultimate in patient empowerment. So I helped Rosemary learn more about options, legalities, how to make decisions, support (especially in the form of a private advocate) and more. Included in my efforts were posting Rosemary’s request to two of the listserves I am part of, including the APHA discussion forum. I hoped members might come forward to provide additional resources. There were many great ideas posted – all of which were forwarded to Rosemary. And, immediately, one of our members wrote to me describing a woman she was working with who turned out (you guessed it) to be Rosemary. I was so very relieved to know that Rosemary had an advocate helping her! Over the next few months, I touched base with Rosemary about once a week. She never committed to what her plans were, but she stopped replying in mid-March. So I wrote to the advocate* I knew had contact with her, and sure enough, Rosemary was in hospice, days away from death, with her advocate by her side. Her advocate then notified me just a few days later that Rosemary had passed – intentionally, yes – and peacefully. Later I learned a few things from her advocate: That ultimately, Rosemary’s doctor who had refused to prescribe hospice at first did relent, and did prescribe hospice for Rosemary. I also learned that the process of dying took Rosemary several weeks once she was under hospice care,…