End of life – “The Conversation”

end of life the converstation angelo volandesI’ve been AWOL on the blog for a couple of weeks because my 93-year-old father has been hospitalized with multiple health issues. Each day brings us a mixed bag of improvement and decline.

As a family, we are in agreement that we don’t want Dad to suffer. We don’t want him to linger with a low quality of life. Although he is confused and unable to communicate with us, we know he doesn’t want that for himself, either.

With good communication and constant re-assessing of Dad’s condition and options, we will make it through this period in our lives. I … Continue reading

End of life – Five Wishes

end of life care five wishesStart the conversation early

There’s an ongoing joke in health care circles that “Scientific studies continue to show that 100% of Americans eventually die.”

And yet, judging by the amount of money spent on medical care in the last 6 months of life, we make every effort to deny that eventuality.

It seems that no matter how much money you use during that last year/month, if the person is sick enough, the effort makes things worse. A lot of the money being spent is not only not helping, it is making that patient endure more bad experiences on a

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Holiday stress? Think like the Churkendoose!

the churckendooseThe what?

No, it’s not a new main dish like the turducken or tofurkey.

A churkendoose is the imaginary barnyard creature created for a children’s story by Ben Ross Berenberg in 1946.  A definite oddball, it’s part chicken, turkey, duck and goose.

Sadly out of print, The Churkendoose was a popular Golden Book and 45-rpm record that delighted several generations of children and their parents. Beautifully orchestrated, the 9-minute recording (1947) features Ray Bolger (the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) singing the title role:

I have a head like a chicken and legs like a duck; instead

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In memory

end of life crossFarewell to a beloved husband and father

Today I am in Idaho attending the memorial service of my father-in-law.

He passed away two weeks ago at the age of 85, after suffering for several years from declining health and increasing dementia. His wife of 59 years and all four of his children were at his bedside when he died.

Death is not pretty, but neither is childbirth. Both involve pain, fear and uncertainty. And hope. Hope that mother and baby are healthy at the end of the ordeal. Hope that the dying one finds peace and an end to physical … Continue reading

Happiness? There’s an app for that!

happiness appThe depression epidemic

I posted last week that prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have soared in the last 20 years.

I like to blame the pharmaceutical companies that reap the huge profits, but the relentless output of bleak news from the media sure doesn’t help. Political scandals and inertia, the economic roller coaster, global warming (or do we call it climate change?) resulting in natural disasters, terrorists, international crises, racial tensions, gun violence, and on and on and on…

And then I read an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Facebook may be making you hate life, study Continue reading

“The Happiness Project”

twelve patientsThe unloved woman

I recently read two books that provoked my thoughts. The first was Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Dr. Eric Manheimer, the medical director of what is probably the largest public hospital in America.

Located in New York City, Bellevue sees patients from all demographics—incarcerated, homeless, undocumented, uninsured, mentally ill, addicted—and treats the worst trauma cases in the city.

Dr. Manheimer sees it all, and he writes compelling stories about the patients and their situations. He also comments on America’s health and health care in general.

His chapter entitled “The Unloved Woman” struck me … Continue reading

Optimize your wake-up time

sleep cycle appSleep cycle tracking apps

Have you ever been wrenched out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock? Or been in such a deep sleep that you slept right through the &#%!@ alarm?

When this happens to me, I wake up feeling groggy and sleep deprived, even if I slept “enough” hours the night before.

Other mornings when the alarm goes off I am full of energy, feeling well rested and loving life.

The difference is not necessarily how many hours I slept; it’s at what point in my sleep cycle—the light and deep stages of sleep—the alarm woke me.… Continue reading