Margaret (Maggie) Bristow has been trying for several years to obtain the necessary authorizations for medical assistance in dying. She maintains that the wait has considerably reduced her quality of life. Next week, she will undergo the procedure in another region, five hours away.
Ms Bristow describes her chronic pain as
paralyzing. She suffers from fibromyalgia, arthritis of the spine, degenerative disc disease, lumbar stenosis and several other back problems.
24/7 hoursdays out of 7″,”text”:”I feel like people are taking ice picks and shoving them into my chest. I feel like my skin is burning on my body 24/7″}}”>I feel like people are taking ice picks and shoving them into my chest. I feel like my skin is burning on my body 24/7illustrates Ms. Bristow, sitting motionless on her sofa.
For 20 years, Margaret Bristow slept in a sitting position, she says, because of her back pain.
Lately I feel like my lower spine is gonna pop out of my skinshares Ms. Bristow with pain forming on her face.
Margaret Bristow worked in the aerospace industry decades ago.
One of the best moments of his life, she recalls. A dog lover, she also ran a shelter.
But from 1998, she began to feel pain and her health deteriorated rapidly.
She says she consulted a neurologist, neurosurgeons and pain specialists. She also tried various opioid therapies and medications to control her chronic pain.
Nothing really worked on metestifies Ms. Bristow.
Margaret Bristow says she has applied three times for medical assistance in dying since the procedure was decriminalized in 2016 – twice before and once after recent legislative changes in 2021 that expanded eligibility criteria.
All three times, she says, her Ottawa evaluators denied her application.
When asked why she was turned down, Ms Bristow says she was told that her assessor was not
comfortable to approve his request.
They left me, left me behind with my pain […] They chose to make my life horribleshe says.
Seek help elsewhere
According to the federal framework, a patient must have
a serious and irremediable medical condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying (MAID). This means that he must suffer from a serious and incurable disease or handicap and that his capacities must be judged to be in a state of advanced and irreversible decline.
In addition, they must endure physical or psychological suffering which is intolerable to them and which cannot be relieved to the extent they deem acceptable.
As of 2021, patients like Margaret Bristow have been eligible for medical assistance in dying even though
natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.
Last spring, his family doctor referred him to assessors who process applications forMAin the Toronto area.
Margaret Bristow learned that her request had been approved in July.
After all these years of fighting I finally get what I needshe said, looking relieved.
Surgery is scheduled for August 10 in Brampton, Ontario. To get there, she will have to take strong painkillers to control her pain during the journey.
She chose to have the procedure in a hospital because she wants to donate her organs.
I thought Ottawa was the capital of Canada. Why don’t they offer me the intervention here? Why are they forcing me to move? Shame on Ottawalaunches Ms. Bristow, who has been confined to the house for years.
Eligibility results may differ by clinician
Dr. Chantal Perrot is a Toronto family physician and partner in the Medical Assistance in Dying program. She says she assessed a few patients in the Ottawa area who had difficulty finding an assessor in a timely manner.
That’s part of the challenge. We’re not that many across the countryshe says.
Dr. Perrot explains that the coordination of medical assistance in dying is not standardized across the country. For example, while Ottawa has a regional network, Toronto does not.
It’s not uncommon to hear about patients traveling to get MAID in Ontario, she says, because there may not be nearby healthcare professionals willing or able. to provide medical assistance in dying in certain regions.
Some seek services in another province.
Each evaluator makes a clinical decision regarding a patient’s eligibility on a case-by-case basis, based on their interpretation of the patient’s legislation, history and conditions, explains Dr. Chantal Perrot.
It is not uncommon for a person not to be found eligible by one assessor, but deemed eligible by anothersays Dr. Perrot.
The decision of the doctors respected
The regional medical assistance in dying program in Ottawa, the Champlain Regional Medical Assistance in Dying Network, of which The Ottawa Hospital is a partner, declined to grant an interview. In a written response, sent by email, the program manager points out that all health professionals participate on a voluntary basis.
If a doctor or nurse practitioner is not available or
uncomfortable during the process, the network indicated that it was doing
everything possible to refer patients to other providers who can support them.
The right to conscientious objection is a value and a fundamental principle of the network. If a supplier is unwilling to accept a case, we respect that rightwrites the manager of the regional program of medical assistance in dying in Ottawa.
The provincial health department also declined an interview. He said in a written response that if a regional network turned down a patient, his care coordination service would help put him in touch with alternative clinicians.
A regional network may have its own capacity, resource or internal policy issues that may prevent it from providing medical assistance in dying to some patients, the ministry added.
the world is losing
a gemsaid a friend
Ann Marie Gaudon met Margaret Bristow through the Canadian Chronic Pain Association. She now considers her a good friend.
I saw an incredibly proud woman. I saw grace, I saw thoughtfulness, generosity, lots of love and even moments of humor, despite the situationtestifies Ms. Gaudon.
She describes Ms Bristow as
survivor, through and through.
Maggie is a gem and we are all going to miss her. The world will miss hersays Ms. Gaudon.
Margaret Bristow said she wanted to share her story in the hope that others in her situation don’t face as many obstacles.
While holding a photo of herself and her late fiancé Brian, Margaret Bristow said she was looking forward to being reunited with her
He’s the love of my life, she said. Few people meet their true love. I met him and had him with me for four and a half years… Hope to see him soon.
With information from Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang, CBC