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MiniBlog “What a way to go!”

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 10:28

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page


I am a Southerner, and we Southerners are historically, deeply tied to the earth. Most of the people in my area are either gardeners themselves or are first-generation descendants of farmers. So, it is not unsusual for me to have patients who come to the ER after having some type of an “event” in their field or their garden.

One day, I had an 82 year old female patient, named Mrs. Steele, who fainted and tumbled off of her tractor without sustaining any injuries. I was impressed by her feat, but nevertheless wanted to admit her for observation. She said she felt fine and wanted to go home.

Her family asked me, in front of her, to please explain to her why she was “too old” to be working in the garden growing tomatoes and riding tractors. They were concerned that she might fall and break something, or worse, die (never mind that she had already exceeded the American life expectancy and was still doing what she loved on a daily basis). They wanted me to encourage her to sit in the rocking chair on the front porch and simply look out over her garden instead.

With great sensitivity I explained to the family that I may not be the right doctor to carry out their appeal, but instead that I wanted to grow up to be like Mrs. Steele myself. I then turned to Mrs. Steel and said, “One day I hope to fall over dead, face first into my own tomato plants.”

A large grin broke across her face, and she looked impishly over to her family, “Me too,” she replied, “what a way to go…”

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As always, patient names are changed to protect privacy.

Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

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"It's OK to Die" is a ground-breaking book filled with graphic stories straight out of the Emergency Room illustrating how most Americans are completely unprepared for death and dying. In response, the authors have created a unique and comprehensive guide urging EVERYONE to prepare in advance, to assure their own peace and to prevent the suffering of their loved ones.
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