Jesús Medina, a doctor who works in Leganés, performed his first euthanasia on November 15, 2021. It is one of the 172 that have been carried out to date in Spain after a year since the entry into force of the law that allows it. “Don’t let me down,” the patient, an 86-year-old woman with terminal colon cancer, told him when she asked to die with dignity. But at first she couldn’t do anything: the Community of Madrid had not yet formed its guarantee committee. When it was formed, the petition was rejected, but it was accepted after appealing the decision, almost three months after the patient decided that she did not want to take it anymore. That night, upon arriving home, Jesus wrote this text:
I must prepare myself inside and out this Thursday morning. I have had a restless night and woke up early. In the shower I noticed that my body was shaking.
I pray and share my feelings with my loved ones.
I pray again for a long time when no one is home.
I go outside and I’m still shaking. I’m about to not take the car because I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive. But I make a leap of confidence: I know I can drive.
We arrived at the portal. The sky is so clear blue that it seems to me like wrapping paper around the city.
The three of us are here: the two nurses and me. We take a few moments to tell each other how nervous we are, but convinced that we are performing a medical act, moved by love and respect for individual freedom.
In the house there is an almost festive atmosphere (like when you wait for the bride to leave the room on her wedding day).
There are the children and many grandchildren. The husband is the most fragile member of the family.
She is splendid. Dressed in white pajamas and a flower robe.
Made up, perfumed, with a bouquet of flowers that her granddaughters have just given her.
We greet everyone discreetly but excitedly.
She comforts those who come close. She is prepared, strong, serene and contradictorily seems full of life.
We explain out loud the steps we are going to take: we prepare the medication in the room, then the patient comes in to place two venous accesses, and then family members who wish can come in.
In the room everything is organized, scrupulously ordered. Everything is left prepared in a solemn but friendly atmosphere. We want everything to be planned and the procedure to be fluid.
Kisses, broken wishes, thanks, some sobbing and some last very tight hugs can already be heard in the living room.
She goes into the room and lies down on the bed with complete naturalness. She talks with us in a jovial tone of concrete details and transcendent topics.
He thanks me for all my accompaniment in these months, he tells me very nice things that I cannot retain. I tell her that ours was a crush of love at first sight, that I will never forget her.
Part of the family enters when the two venous routes are canalized.
The room is white, his pajamas are white, the propofol is also white, and the morning light enters through the window, filtered through white awnings.
The sedation begins and she does not lose her smile. Her granddaughters tell her everything they love and she says goodbye to her wishing happiness for all of us.
It’s half past eleven and a spirit of peace, dignity, respect for life and the process of dying remains in the air that I had never experienced.