RENTON, Wash. - "I'm a mess," sobs Tory Plaisance as he describes what has become of his life.
Confined in large part to his recliner, cancer ravaging his body, he sits and waits for death to come. This is not the way it was supposed to be.
"No, I didn't think this would be what it was like at all," he says.
Tory wanted to have the option to end his life on his own terms under Washington's Death with Dignity Act.
Just a few weeks ago, Tory was a different man. He was looking strong and in good spirits at a "wake" held in his honor by friends.
"If I should wake before I die," joked Tory, decked out in a fuzzy, red king's crown and robe. Dozens of old friends and family members came together to share stories, celebrate a life well lived ... and say goodbye. His mother Nancy smiled courageously as she choked back tears and proclaimed, "What a thing to do when you're alive! You can enjoy the celebration, and that's the way it should be."
But soon thereafter, things fell apart for Tory.
He discovered neither of the doctors who told him he had six months to live would prescribe the drugs needed to end his life. Tory believed a third doctor could write the prescription, but the law states that the person who prescribes the fatal dose of drugs has to be the same doctor who signs the paperwork declaring a patient has six months or less to live.
None of this is clear on the Department of Health Web site. The bottom line: Tory had to find a new doctor and start all over. The safety net of assisted suicide had suddenly been yanked away.
He says neither of his doctors at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or the University of Washington referred him to a doctor that would help him end his life.
"How's the process working? Ha!" says Tory with a sneer of indignation. "Just fine."
Since then, Tory's life has spiraled into a deepening abyss. His condo is in foreclosure. The IRS has seized his bank account because of rejected write-offs for medical expenses. Tory's cable, phone and computer have all been cut off because he can't pay the bills. There is no money and little hope.
"They just say gimme my money and die," said Tory.
There are some bright spots. Tory's old employer, Express Northwest, keeps him on the books so he can continue to receive his health insurance. His sister-in-law, Patti, plows through piles of his paperwork. And a longtime friend has moved in to take care of Tory as he approaches his final days.
"I never thought I'd have to see this ... or see him go through it," says Paul Nelson, who is also a trained physician's assistant.
Right now, it's hard to tell whether time is running out or standing still for Tory. He recently found a doctor willing to write his prescription and is now is in the middle of a mandatory two week wait until he can try to fill it. There's no telling how long that could take.
Tory says he is counting the days until he can get his hands on those drugs. The question is will there still be enough time for him to die with dignity?
You can go to Paypal and use the email address above to donate money to help Tory Plaisance with the indignities of these very difficult days.
As we have found out so often in the wake of so many major natural disasters recently, people just want to help. Most of your comments and blog-posts after Eric Wilkinson’s story about Tory’s current situation aired the other night once again prove that true. This is personal, clearly, and people have responded. In this case his friend Paul Nelson tells us some high school friends of Tory’s have gotten together and set up an account at Paypal. The goals are simple. They want to pay some utilities bills, get the TV turned back on, help with finances as best they can.