As a former nurse, she knows how death works. “I know the things I don’t want. I don’t want to end up in hospital having to be fed with a peg feed through my stomach and I don’t want a drip. Just so long as they inject me with painkillers to keep me comfortable that’s it. I don’t want anything to prolong my life.”

Full article in Irish Times here >>> http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/terminally-ill-ex-nun-i-have-right-to-decide-when-i-go-to-heaven-1.2965489

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(by Cillian Keogh, first-year medical student, TCD)

The story revolves around two nurses, from different generations, whose paths and duties intertwine. The paragraphs of the passage meander, forming a link between the nurses from the beginning.

The first nurse we are presented with is an anonymous “striking blonde girl” named R-. She is the most modern of the protagonists, living in the 2000s.

The other nurse featured is the “red-haired” Agnes O’Dwyer. She is also given the alias ‘Angel of Mercy’ because of the heinous acts she committed in the 1960s.

The ‘Angel of Mercy’ sees herself as a heroine, a panacea for all the patients’ illnesses. She heals them by killing them, ‘giving them mercy’. (more…)

“Medicine is keeping more and more people alive, all requiring more and more care. Alzheimer’s and other dementias place a huge care burden on the country, a burden that falls initially on the next of kin, who may even be elderly and, indeed, be in need of some sort of care themselves.”

“If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.”

Read an edited extract of Terry Pratchett’s Richard Dimbleby lecture, Shaking Hands With Death, which was broadcast on BBC1 on 1 February, here on the Guardian website >>>