Monday, June 18, 2012

Tony Nicklinson :Let Our Dad Die.

by Sally Beck

Lauren and Beth Nicklinson are clearly much-loved daughters. Their father Tony has a photograph of them hugging that he keeps by his bed, and his eyes come alive when he sees them. The feeling is mutual and they talk fondly of the father who both insist they even liked during their teenage years.

'We were quite lucky, most teenagers don't want their friends round their dad but we were quite happy to bring friends home. Dad was loud and used to get involved and was a good laugh,' Lauren, 24, a public relations account manager, says with affection.

Beth, 23, who is studying for a degree in animal science, would give anything to hear one of his fatherly lectures again. She says sadly, 'I can't remember the sound of his voice. We used to hate his lectures when we were younger, but we kind of miss them now. He'd lecture us about working hard at school and warn us about boys, life preparing stuff.

'He was very involved in our lives and he always encouraged us with our school work. When we were kids, he always played with us or took us swimming. You couldn't fault him as a dad. He was brilliant.'

Their unconditional love is the reason they are supporting his brave court battle that will allow someone to kill him if he wins.

Tony Nicklinson, 58, is a relatively young man but has almost no quality of life. In June 2005, a massive stroke destroyed most of his brain stem leaving him paralysed but mentally alert suffering what is known as 'locked in syndrome'. He can do no more than move his eyes and head. He cannot talk, or feed himself and he communicates by blinking at a perspex letter board or via computer. His mouth hangs open and he dribbles constantly. Tony, who was always an active man, says: 'It's like being buried alive.'

The stroke happened while he was on a business trip to Athens. He had had a mini stroke 18 months earlier that had left him temporarily paralysed down one side. He had said then that he was afraid of not being able to live an active life and that he wouldn't want to live if he couldn't participate fully.

As he lay in intensive care in Athens, Tony's loved ones, wife Jane, a former nurse, and Lauren, told doctors that he wouldn't want to live in his condition, but medical staff made it clear that they could not stop giving him his life-saving medication. He was flown back to the UK in August but by December, the 6'4" former rugby playing, sky diving, engineer, was talking about suicide.

Beth says: 'As soon as he could communicate with us he decided this. The doctors thought he might adapt and he promised he would give it two years which he did, but he still felt the same.'
The family, who had been living in Dubai, moved into a specially adapted bungalow in Melksham, Wilts, in May 2006, and began a new way of life, accepting that the man they knew was gone. Tony however, found life unbearable and by 2007, was asking Jane if she could help him die.

Lauren remembers. 'I was 19 by that time and at university. I got a call from my mum, she was sobbing and she said that dad had asked her to help him die.

'When we were still in Athens, we spoke about it then and it was agreed that dad didn't want to live. He'd had a mini stroke 18 months earlier and had been paralysed down one side but he recovered. He said then that he was afraid of not being able to live an active life and he was frightened of that. He said then that he wouldn't want to live if he couldn't participate fully.
'We tried to get the doctors to take him off all his drugs to see if he would die, but they wouldn't take him off anything.' Tony himself began refusing all life saving medication back in more