“I’m too busy to cash the bloody checks,” she told The Daily Beast. “I haven’t made a deposit in three months.”
You have probably never heard of the helium-hood kit. Neither had Oregon State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, until he read a newspaper story published last month about Klonoski’s death. The horrified legislator quickly floated a bill to make it a Class C felony to sell such a kit. The first to testify at his April 11 hearing was one of Klonoski’s four brothers, Zach. Zach told the state senate judiciary panel that “my brother Nick was a beautiful person...It would be a disservice to him to remember him only for the way he died.”
Zach didn’t discuss his brother’s reasons for killing himself, but Nick’s mother, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, told police he’d been running every day and had been in an upbeat mood, despite battling a severe cold over the past several weeks.
Klonoski’s brothers told the Eugene Register-Guard that he’d battled bouts of pain and fatigue for years without a diagnosis, that he was depressed about the effect that had on his life, and that he was worried he’d never regain his normal health.
“This is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic.”
Klonoski wasn’t terminally ill, so he wouldn’t have qualified for lethal prescriptions provided to eligible Oregonians under the state’s Death With Dignity Act, one of only two states that allow assisted suicide. But he was able to buy Hydorn’s kit on the Internet, to rent a helium tank from nearby Party City for $175, and do the job himself.
This, an emotional Zach testified at the hearing earlier this month, should be illegal.
Though Hydorn admits she did sell Zach’s brother his implement of death, she makes no apology for it. She has a story of her own.
It was 30 years ago, Hydorn said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, that her husband, “a six-foot-four, wonderful, handsome, loving, intelligent man,” was dying of colon cancer. After several operations, the cancer had spread to his brain, and surgeons had cut a hole in his stomach, out of which came his excrement, into a bag.
“It was my duty, and I did it willingly, to empty that thing every three or four hours,” she said. “One time I ran out of bags and went all over town looking for a pharmacy that sold them. Even years after my husband died, I would wake up and say, ‘I’ve got to go get those bags.’ ”
No one should have to go through that, Hydorn said, to die a slow, painful death in a hospital bed. “Death should be with loved ones beside you, holding your hand."