Rebecca, I felt really bad for you because of the effect your doctor's well-meant words had on you (that the experience of dying could be a "transcendent" experience). What occurred for you was neither your fault nor Stewarts.
I'VE HAD IT BOTH WAYS, SO I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE.
Because alcoholism chemically disables the personality, and my husband was suffering from terminal alcoholism (Most alcoholics eventually die from it, and he came close), I had the same experience of horror, frustration, etc. that you described, and for which no one prepared you. When my husband recovered from alcoholism, he did (finally) revert to the person I felt sure he could be. But while he was in its chemical grip, NOTHING I did was of use and all he could do was destroy...and under such conditions, no transcendent experience is available. That's no more my fault...or his...than your experience was. It seemed to ME that you handled your situation very well indeed.
Years later, my husband was diagnosed with two other terminal diseases (He seems to have beat the cancer, but the Parkinson's plods on unrelentingly). He found the Parkinson's transforming, as apparently denial, so much a part of the alcoholic personality, was involved in assuming he could procrastinate patching up (the pathetic rag our relationship had become) forever. Amazingly, he has, for the last 10 years, again and again, expressed his GRATITUDE for the Parkinson's, because it forced him to put in some effort, and these last 10 years have probably been the best years of our lives together.
Parkinson's (another brain disease) only DESTROYS brain cells he refuses the conventional drug Sinemet, which, although it alleviates symptoms, can cause psychosis and hasten death. Parkinson's doesn't bath the brain in a chemical bath as does alcoholism, and it doesn't irritate the brain by shoving masses of brain tissue about so that it doesn't work properly, as in Stewarts situation.
When a terminal disease proves "transforming" or "transcendent," given optimal conditions, it is only the luck of the draw. It seemed to me that you provided optimal conditions.
I admire the way you handled your situation. I will always regret that I wasn't more pro-active when my husband abused his children.
GOOD FOR YOU!