Marie's future still uncertain
on 11/01/2013 00:00:00
Marie's health and quality of life has been eroded by MS since she was diagnosed 32 years ago. It prompted her to look at alternatives to enduring painful life, culminating in a potentially agonising death.
Marie's partner of the past 20 years, Tom Curran, told this newspaper this week that he is in a peculiar place: He wants to facilitate the wishes of the person closest to him, despite the fact that it would mean living on without her.
For the last 12 years, Tom has been Marie's full-time carer, and while Marie, originally from Lifford, had MS by the time they met, he has seen day-by-day what it has done to her.
"She was in remittance" when they met. "She could get a minor relapse every 12 months, and she would 100% recover from it. But then the relapses became more frequent, they lasted longer, and she was no longer recovering 100%.
"We knew, and she knew, that the chances of her getting disabled from it are very high but we were putting that off." Instead, they worked on the future, modifying their home.
"The topic then came up, on her instigation, that if it got to the stage when she could not tolerate it any more she wanted a way out.
"It was just something that came up. It wasn't an impulsive decision."
This was 10 years ago, and the High Court heard in December that almost six years ago, the couple had planned and booked a visit to the Dignitas facility in Switzerland, where she could be assisted in dying.
However, Tom says, "the time was not right" and he persuaded her to stay so she could die in her own place.
According to Tom, Marie is "continually in pain".
"For my own selfish reasons, I want her to be around forever, but I have to be realistic as well. The disability is taking more and more of her away."
As things stand, Tom says, "It could be two hours, two weeks, two months or two years, but it's unlikely to go past that." For him it is a choice between "a painful death" and what he calls "the ultimate comfort".
Both are some way off in an undetermined future.