Janet Ng was the primary care partner to her mom, Shirley Ann Snow, who died three months after my mom Patti died. Janet, who lives in Texas, has been following MyAlzheimersStory.com for a long time. She has been feeling increasingly compelled to share her and her mom’s story. It looks like she’s ready to start with this guest blog post.
My mother was stolen from me, one piece at a time, right out from under my nose. I didn’t see it until it was too late.
Dementia didn’t steal her. Nor did old age, or the natural progression of a chronic disease. Care stole her. Institutions stole her. The medical profession twisted and mutilated her until her organs shut down one by one over a period of five years. They stole her in bits and pieces, chipped and chiseled from the healthy person she had once been.
Looking back, it amazes me how I missed what should have been the most obvious clues. Like many other families who are misled by lies, cover-ups, and subterfuge, I trusted others’ judgment, their words, and their promise to do no harm. I believed their “benefits outweigh the risks” scams, their smiling facades, their tricks and their schemes. I was lulled into complacency and falsely believed that what they did was best for her when actually it was the worst. Now I am the one left with the grief and guilt for allowing them to murder her before she was meant to die.
Miraculously, Mom was alert, communicative and “with it,” until the very end. It was only during her last three days, when she became very ill, that she was unresponsive. Until that point she always knew me, and we were able to talk to each other. Amidst all the hurt and devastation, that at least was a blessing – something I can cling to. Our times together are memories I will always cherish despite everything else.
We trust doctors and nurses because we see them as omnipotent gods whom we mustn’t challenge. Even when our gut tells us things aren’t right, we dismiss our doubts and instead trust their so-called wisdom and experience. We become like flocks of sheep that only wake up when it’s too late. And by then, our experience means nothing because our loved one is gone. We are exhausted and depleted by grief, with no emotional energy left to speak out for the sake of others who are trudging the same tragic path, that I have come to believe is criminal.
It has taken me almost two years following my mother’s death in 2016 to have the stomach to think about the slow train of legal euthanasia she was on, much less write about it. But I think it’s time to speak out, and to tell her story. Why? Because I see more and more families unknowingly boarding the same train. It’s time to blow the whistle, and stop the train.
I will write about her journey into darkness, a journey that was imposed on her by the very profession that was supposed to succor and heal her. Perhaps the most frightening part is that her story is not unique, although it may have been more horrendous because she was a fighter, and it may have been tougher for the system and the people in it to collectively break her down.
I pray I’m able to fully relive her experience on paper, and that it doesn’t become too excruciating for me to recall. My hope is that the telling of it will help others avoid the same hellish path.
Janet Ng, September 2018.