A yoga teacher in Sydney has made a strong case for reform of the law to enable voluntary assisted death by recounting the painful last weeks of his father’s life.
Ari Levanael’s father Barry James, 77, a former truck driver in the racing industry, died in late April after battling a brain tumor and lymphoma.
His family believes Mr. James suffered needlessly in his last weeks as a result of ‘a 24-hour slow infusion morphine and a cocktail of other drugs’ administered to keep him ‘comfortable’ but left him in a state of discomfort for weeks on end. distress before he died.
Ari Levanael has called for legal reform around voluntary deaths after seeing 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 few weeks of his life in Sydney
In two powerful and moving blogs Mr. Levanael, 47, described his father’s slow death and the family’s misfortune over the use of the drugs given to him.
He claimed that doctors kept Mr. James “drugged out of his head … for seven weeks” in an effort to keep him “at ease” – equating his father’s suffering with “animal cruelty.”
“Pumping people full of drugs is not the right way to go,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“He never used drugs in his life, why should he be forced to the end of his life?”
“He certainly wouldn’t have wanted what happened, none of it.”
Mr. Levanael just wanted ‘to be able to go home and mow the lawn and walk the dogs’ – and if he couldn’t, he didn’t want to be resuscitated
Ari Levanael holds hands with his father, Barry James.
He has become involved in the voluntarily guided dying movement and the Go soft organization defended by former leading journalist Andrew Denton.
After witnessing his father’s painful decline for two months, he plans to get involved in campaigns to see law reform in New South Wales later in 2021.
An assisted suicide program has been in effect in Victoria in mid-2019 and similar programs are expected to start this year in South Australia and Western Australia and next year in Tasmania.
Mr. Levanael said before he died that his father had made it clear that he could not ‘go home and walk the dog and mow the lawn, and then do CPR.’
He was a very dignified man and would not have wanted to lose his dignity as he did. He wanted to be able to shower and get dressed and it became demoralizing that he couldn’t. ‘
Barry James worked for the horse racing industry and for years drove trucks delivering racehorses
In a blog, Mr. Levanael wrote: “ You fucking know my dad got up at 4 a.m. every morning for a lower than average wage to pay off the house of his dreams, start a family with a woman. he has been loved for 60 years, paid a lot of taxes, did not complain about it because that is “what he wanted to do” and now the result is this. ‘
Mr Levanael told Daily Mail Australia that weeks before his death, his father was sad, delirious and hallucinated.
‘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 was unable to eat because of painful sores in his mouth.
Mr. Levanael added that his mother Lyn, 75, was ‘in a panic’ seeing the demise of the man she had been married to for 60 years.
“She said don’t touch me, don’t let me go out like that.”
“I don’t want to leave the house in any way.”
Barry James imagined laughing in good health over a family barbecue
Mr. Levanael wrote that his father Barry was funny, wise, stubborn, passionate and an animal lover
However, writing Mr. Levanael’s blog was much more than a campaign for voluntary dying aid.
It was also a tender tribute to his father’s ‘Barry-ness’ and a brutal insight into the experience of a family member’s death.
“It was extremely heartbreaking but also strangely mystical,” he wrote.
He wrote about watching his dad’s favorite cowboy movie, Shane, on the night of his death and sitting with him while the family listened to a playlist of Mr. James’ favorite country songs.
His favorite song was Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.
He also described the process of washing his father’s body after his death and wrapping him in a sheet at home.
“He lit a fire under my ass in relation to everything around death,” wrote Mr. Levanael.