Harry’s Story

My Walk with Harry - by Diana Carter

It started with a cough. Harry was prone to colds and this one was tenacious in its hold on him. Four months later, and twenty pounds lighter, he and I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for the test results. He looked like an old man. He was so shaken by the weight loss, scared to pieces, and looking so vulnerable, it was terribly sad to see him this way. I'd never heard him talk about just “cashing in”, but I did yesterday.

Photo of Harry as a young soldier in uniform

Harry was taken by ambulance directly to the hospital. The test results revealed his kidneys were shutting down, he was in renal failure. The diagnosis: Granulomatosis, (formerly called Wegener's) is a rare disease affecting parts of the respiratory tract and the kidneys. He had several blood transfusions those first few days, was put on dialysis and monitored closely. After a grueling four weeks of treatment he was finally released from the hospital and walked out on his own two legs.

After two years of dialysis, three times weekly, Harry was allowed to drop down to twice weekly, a very rare exception, making a huge difference in his ability to live more fully and happily. Dialysis is extremely hard on the body. This change gave Harry more freedom from the side effects of the treatment and he continued to do well for the next three years.

Regrettably, a month and a half before he passed, he moved, under duress, into a Senior Living facility. He was miserable there, the dialysis was ravaging his body and he was fading away before my eyes. Had Death with Dignity been an option for him, I believe he would have welcomed the opportunity to receive it and make the transition on his own terms.

This is why I support the Florida Death with Dignity Law. It wasn’t there when Harry needed it, but maybe it will be for others in the future.

Harry sitting in a canoe