A Sydney yoga teacher has launched a powerful plea for law reform to allow voluntary assisted dying by recounting the agonizing last weeks in his father’s life.
Ari Levanael’s father Barry James, 77, a former truck driver in the racing industry, died in late April after a battle with a brain tumor and lymphoma.
His family believe that Mr James suffered needlessly in his final weeks from “slow administration of morphine and other drugs over 24 hours” to keep him “at ease”, but who did. kept in a state of distress for weeks before his death.
Ari Levanael called for reform of the law on assisted dying after watching his father, Barry James, suffer and lose his dignity in the last weeks of his life in two powerful and moving blog posts. Mr Levanael, his son Finn and Mr James are pictured together above
Barry James during the last weeks of his life in Sydney
In two powerful and moving blogs Mr. Levanael, 47, described the slow disappearance of his father and the family’s dissatisfaction with the use of drugs administered to him.
He claimed doctors kept Mr James “drugged out of his mind … for seven weeks” in an attempt to keep him “at ease” – and equated his father’s suffering with “animal abuse”.
“Pumping people full of drugs is not the right way to go,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“He’s never used drugs in his life, why should you have to take drugs at the end of his life?”
“He certainly wouldn’t have wanted what happened, none of that.”
Mr Levanael just wanted to be able to “go home, mow the lawn and walk the dogs” – and if he couldn’t do that, he didn’t want to be resuscitated
Ari Levanael holds the hand of his father, Barry James.
He was involved in the voluntary assisted dying movement and in the Take it slow organization championed by former great journalist Andrew Denton.
After witnessing his father’s agonizing decline for two months, he plans to get involved in a campaign for law reform in New South Wales later in 2021.
An assisted suicide program has been in place in Victoria since mid-2019 and similar programs are expected to start in South Australia and Western Australia this year and in Tasmania next year.
Mr Levanael said that before he died, his father made it clear that he could not “go home, walk the dog and mow the lawn, then not resuscitate me”.
âHe was a very worthy man and wouldn’t have wanted to lose his dignity like he did. He wanted to be able to shower and dress and it became demoralizing that he couldn’t.
Barry James worked for the horse racing industry and drove trucks delivering race horses for years
In a blog, Mr. Levanael wrote: “It’s fucked up, you know, my dad got up at 4 a.m. every morning for less than average pay to pay for his dream house, raise a family with a woman he has been loved for 60 years, has paid a lot of taxes, has not complained about anything because it is “what he wanted to do” and now the result is as follows. ‘
Mr Levanael told Daily Mail Australia his father was distressed, delusional and hallucinated for weeks before his death.
‘I know he was. He saw birds flying around the room, people who weren’t there, he thought there were dogs in the room.
Mr. James could not eat because of painful ulcers in his mouth.
Mr Levanael added that his mother Lyn, 75, was “in panic” when she saw the death of the man she had been married to for 60 years.
“She said don’t let them touch me, don’t let me get out that way.”
‘There is no way I want to go out like this.’
Barry James pictured in good health laughing at a family barbecue
Mr Levanael wrote that his father Barry was funny, wise, stubborn, passionate and animal lover
The writing of Mr. Levanael’s blog, however, was much more than a campaign for voluntary assistance in dying.
It was also a tender tribute to his father’s “Barry-ness” and a stark glimpse into the experience of the death of a family member.
âIt was extremely heartbreaking but also strangely mystical,â he wrote.
He wrote about watching his father’s favorite cowboy movie, Shane, the night he died and sitting with him while the family listened to a playlist of Mr. James’ favorite country songs. .
Her favorite song was Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton.
He also described the process of washing his father’s body after his death and wrapping it in a bed sheet from the house.
âHe lit a fire under my *** over everything around death,â Mr. Levanael wrote.