8-22-11: A Wonderful Life
Dudley Clendinen is an award-winning author and journalist who lives here in Baltimore. A former reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times, he found out in November, at age 66, that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There is no known cure for ALS, and once a person is diagnosed, they usually live between 1.5 to 3 years.
Over the past few months, Dudley has been speaking with Tom Hall about living with ALS. In this conversation, Dudley talks about the choices he’s making as the disease progresses.
“I enjoy life. I always have,” says Dudley. “As a writer after a while, your relationship with life, your whole life, is formed in part because you are a writer. So, this has become a fascinating subject to me– you know, my latest non-fiction narrative.”
Dudley says there are several major factors involved in making choices about the end of life. “The nature of this disease makes the question almost inescapable because there’s no cure for us to take. Those of us, you know, patients who have treatment possibilities can live with the thought that they can extend life or reclaim life. I can’t extend life beyond the point where I enjoy it, but I can’t reclaim it–and beyond a certain point it’s damaged more and more each day.”
Dudley is considering controlling his own exit. “I want my death to be meaningful, and to be on familiar terms and grounds for me and for my family and friends. That’s the way I think life should end–in a symmetrical way, true to the life that has come before.”
You can listen to all of our conversations with Dudley Clendinen at this link.