I love ZDoggMD’s musical video parodies on health-related topics (by the way, he really is an MD, although how he finds time to make these videos, I don’t know).
His latest offering takes on the huge subject of end of life choices—or non choices, as is sadly often the case.
“Ain’t the Way to Die”
I like the line “Critical care is just hypocritical when it’s so insane.”
At the end of the video, ZDoggMD invites viewers to share their experiences with dying in the comments.
And he promises his next video will be … Continue reading
My father passed away on the Fourth of July. He was 93 years old.
It sounds a cliché to say he was “surrounded by his family,” but he was, and it was an experience none of us in that room will ever forget.
My mother, brother, husband, sister-in-law and four nieces (along with one fiancé and one boyfriend) were all crowded into Dad’s little room at his memory care home.
His condition had deteriorated the previous night, and we knew this day could be his last. He was not conscious and his breathing was labored.
As we talked, cried and … Continue reading
For the last few months, my family has been dealing with the reality that my 93-year-old father’s health is failing. Following a health crisis that resulted in his being hospitalized and no longer able to make decisions himself, my mother and siblings all agreed that he would not want any heroic, life-extending treatments.
He survived that hospitalization, however, and is now living in a memory care home. He is receiving excellent (and very expensive) around-the-clock care.
When he was discharged from the hospital, I made it known to everyone involved—his primary care doctor, the visiting home health nurse, and his … Continue reading
I’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
Here’s a link to the PBS Frontline special Being Mortal, based on the book of the same name by the brilliant surgeon/author Atul Gawande.
The hour-long report shows Dr. Gawande talking with patients and colleagues about difficult end-of-life issues. Both doctors and patients have trouble managing their expectations about death and the process of dying. After all, doctors want to fix things and patients believe there is always “something more” that can be done.
But as Dr. Gawande says, “The two big unfixables are aging and dying. You can’t fix them.”
Overall, Being Mortal asks, “What matters to you … Continue reading
Facing end-of-life choices
There have been a lot of news stories in recent weeks about a young woman, Brittany Maynard, and her choice to end her life with support from Oregon’s Death with Dignity law.
Diagnosed with advanced brain cancer, Ms. Maynard actually moved with her husband to Oregon so she could establish residency and take advantage of the law.
She originally planned her death for last Saturday, November 1. Last I heard she was thinking of rescheduling, because she was still finding joy in living. I don’t know if she ended her life or not on Saturday, but when … Continue reading
Start 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
… Continue reading
The anatomy of a prolonged death
In 2001, author Katy Butler’s father suffered a stroke. Thus began her and her family’s long journey through our health care system detailed in Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.
After his death, I would not rest until I understood better why the most advanced medical care on earth, which saved my father’s life at least once when he was a young man, succeeded at the end mainly in prolonging his suffering.
During vigorous rehabilitation to regain strength following the stroke, Ms. Butler’s father developed a hernia—a … Continue reading
I don’t consider myself old, but we are all aging, aren’t we?
One of my personal irritations with our for-profit health care system—and the main reason I started this blog—is its predilection to market and sell screening tests and prescription medications of questionable value to the aging population.
In his book Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society, Dr. Nortin Hadler scrutinizes some of the most over treated aspects of aging, and rigorously reviews the scientific literature that does—or doesn’t—support those treatments.
Like many doctors that are thankfully pushing back against the current … Continue reading
A son’s anguish
Have you ever read the comic strip Dilbert?
Created by Scott Adams, it is a wonderfully humorous and satirical cartoon about a white-collared worker, Dilbert, who exists in a world of partitioned office cubicles and micromanaging bosses. It’s very funny.
But this morning I ran across Scott Adams’s blog and read his very angry, very painful, very un-funny post about his dying father.
I hope my father dies soon.
My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has
… Continue reading