Patients deserve the same standard and car that doctors receive when they need treatment. But as I have said before (Doctors Die Differently and more recently Treatment Creep in Medicine – sucking Decency out of Patients) we remain challenged especially when it comes to dying.
This piece by Dan Gorenstein, How Doctors Die: Showing Others the Way touched on these issues in a moving a thoughtful way.
Dr. Elizabeth D. McKinley’s battled breast cancer for 17 years but this past spring discovered the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs and brain. Her choice was to undergo more treatment that would have potentially debilitating and mind altering effects on her or change course, accept death and work on getting the best out of what was left of her life…as she put it
..time with her husband, a radiologist, and their two college-age children, and another summer to soak her feet in the Atlantic Ocean…“a little more time being me and not being somebody else.”
And some of her fight was with her own family – the non-medical members
clinging to the promise of medicine as limitless
And the medical members of her family (her husband is a radiologist)
looking at her disease as doctors, who know the limits of medicine
Its not a difference in the effects of disease and death but rather an advantage of knowledge and information that lead to truly informed decisions “doctors have control over their quality of life before they die and this sadly is control that eludes most other members of society” and it would appear especially try here in the USA. More than half of deaths take place in hospital and not at home surrounded by people we love which is the way most say they want to “go”.
So if you do nothing else this Thanksgiving – take the time to talk about the subject with the people you love and create and advance directive or living will. In many respects no better way to be thankful than to set out what is important and let everyone know, now when you are fit and healthy.
Wishing you all a very happy family and friend fill Thanksgiving
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