How Doctors Die vs. How We Do / And THE LAST GREAT THING

Searching around the Netmosphere, I ran across "How Doctors Die" (who can resist a salacious title like that?!) which does a 180 in terms of how "we" choose to die vs. the choices Doctors make. Ken Murray, a Physician, brings to light more than a small measure of hypocrisy in this matter. Though I would have liked some concrete, statistical evidence the general conclusion is that Doctors don't want to go to extremes. They resist "futile care". "We" tend to want our loved ones to go down with a fight. We want to break out every last measure, procedure, keep the machines running---the whole ball of wax. Doctors? Different story.

Doctors are armed with all the (dirty?) little secrets regarding how, perhaps hopeless, end-of-life situations really are. They themselves don't want to go down a final path that's littered with extraneous procedures. A closer "reveal" shows the bigger irony at stake for those who take the Hiipocratic Oath. Paradox, indeed. How did we arrive at this quandry? Clearly there's a gargantuan divide at work. No one wants their loved one to die alone, under the influence of some excruciating pain. But, how often does a Doctor tell someone "I think it's time to take her/him to hospice?" Hospice care is underutilized for precisely the point made in this study, "Many terminally-ill patients who might benefit from hospice aren’t discussing it with their physicians and may not be aware of the services hospice could offer."  

If patients aren't discussing Hospice with their Doctor, can we also assume that Doctors are not discussing it with their patients? Yet, Doctors don't go to the mat for themselves, they take the off-ramp away from the emergency hub-bub. The message, as is so often the case, appears to be "quality of life and care," as opposed to prolonging the inevitable.

How do we bridge this divide? If we put our trust in Doctors for so much, would we trust their advice if they suggested "the end is near, let's make it as peaceful as possible". Or would we fight the good fight. Perhaps part of the solution is how we "re-invent" our belief in the perception of death itself. 

 

THE LAST GREAT THING.......

Being the Hollywood Font of Knowledge that I am, I read "The Making of Spartacus" by Kirk Douglas, and was blown away. I've watched this movie many times before, but I happened to catch it again just as I'd finished the book. The real genius behind the movie is how it merges action sequences with very poignant, intimate moments. They are character-driven scenes that show Roman Life and the principal players. Husband/Wife. Master/Slave. Politicians/Roman General. If you haven't caught it, I highly recommend. It's the movie that launched Stanley Kubrick as a Director, and the MUSIC will positively bring you to tears. 

 

 

  

Feel free to send in your LAST GREAT THING.

Alonzo LaMont

alonzo@jhmi.edu

 


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