Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rita,

I got the comment you sent in: “I’m Rita. I have cancer and am dying.”

Rita you are a brave woman. You come to this website and state your truth, a truth that we all share but few of us believe. You see, we are all dying, but the vast majority of us are in denial.

Not you, because you know ‘officially’ that you are dying; no doubt a doctor has told you this. The rest of us live in a false state of denial that we will ever be in your shoes. We cannot say to ourselves and to the world, “I’m Monica and I am dying.”  But, what if we could say that and really believed it? Then, Rita, we would become like you—bold, brave, speaking our truth. How relieving!

Last night, my friend Patti gave me a plaque. It reads, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Continue reading

Never heard of the 90-80 Dilemma? That’s because I have just coined the phrase. You see, tied into soaring healthcare costs in this country, is another humanitarian crisis of massive proportions.

 It is this:

A HUGE GAP exists between what Americans want for end-of-life care and what they actually receive.  90% of people wish to die at home, yet nearly 80% of us actually die in institutions (hospitals and nursing homes.)1,2,3

So, how did we end up here? How have we tolerated such an extreme disconnect between our desires and our reality? Such a profound disconnect is fundamentally un-American.

But let me tell you a secret. The 90-80 Dilemma was actually created by US!

This crisis was unintentionally created by our modern beliefs and practices regarding death. Listed below are what I believe to be the 4 core beliefs and practices that have led to this dilemma: Continue reading

5 ways in which it is NOT OK to die

Tuesday, 27 Dec 2011 10:31

 

I know that this website states “it’s OK to die” and your recent stories posted on the Message Board illustrate how and when that is the case. But, I want to tell you about 5 ways in which it is NOT OK to die. You may avoid these scenarios for yourself and those whom you love by using our checklists and resources to assure a better way when your time comes. That better way is to place yourself in the dignity-providing, comfort-focused care of palliative/hospice professionals. Continue reading

 

I had just put him on a ventilator. Mr. Barnes had come in by ambulance sweating, barely responsive, gasping for air. The paramedics said he was from the local rehabilitation hospital and had just been sent there 2 weeks ago after a protracted hospitalization for a stroke which had left him partially paralyzed. Then they showed me medical orders indicating that he was “full code”—medical lingo for “put a breathing tube in him if his breathing fails.” And, it was failing. Continue reading

Talking about the taboo topic…Death

Thursday, 01 Dec 2011 10:29

Say “Boo” to taboos!

“Not talking about death does NOT in fact calm the patient,” only when dying is openly discussed can one finish the inner work required for closure.  adapted from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD

The time for avoiding the topic of death is over. Americans are suffering precisely because this topic is shunned, ignored and labeled “taboo.” If no one talks about dying, then no one prepares for it. If no one is prepared for dying, then when terminal illness strikes or death is impending, our default mode is to attempt to extend “life” at all costs, even in the face of futility. This artificial extension of life (which is really just artificial extension of death) is responsible for alot of suffering- for both the patient and the family. I see this every day in the ER and I say to myself “Not me! I am not going out this way…connected to tubes, wires, breathing machines and beeping monitors.” My family will not be forced to struggle with how long I would want to be on artificial life support, or whether I would even want to have it at all. Continue reading