Because of my father When you lose a parent during childhood, it effects just about everything you become.  Decisions about life naturally stem from enduring this trauma.  Some try to form families early and replace that which they feel has been lost.  Others spurn close connections and create a wall so firm that no one else can encroach.  An attempt to protect against pain.  Because of my father I ...

Read more...

On a curiously warm morning last February, the minister arrived at my childhood home to guide my father to the other side. When he approached the bedside where all of us were gathered around with the Eagles Pandora radio humming in the background, my dad emerged from a semi-conscious state and sat up as best as he could. “Listen. I am not dying,” he declared. As an early-career researcher focused ...

Read more...

Many of us have moms and dads or older friends and relatives in nursing home facilities and care very much about their well-being and the supports they receive. But who’s caring for the care aides who do the bulk of the frontline work in nursing homes? Their welfare is almost entirely overlooked in the health system. And it turns out, the health of the care aide affects the Read more...

Let’s say your loved one is at the end of life. She’s 84, with advanced cancer that is no longer treatable. A decision has been made to put her in hospice -- which is a level of care more than an actual location. (Most hospice actually occurs at home.) The patient waxes in and out of consciousness, sometimes lucid, but mostly not. While no one is ready for her to die, this end-of-life ...

Read more...

“I remember you,” said Gracie with the look of having found a long-lost friend. “You gave my husband the option to be treated aggressively in the hospital or return home with palliative care. He chose to go home.” I hesitated to ask, “How did he do?” Gracie went on to say that her husband had passed in the last month, yet lived nine months following our brief encounter in the ...

Read more...

As Hannah's granddaughter clutched at her skeletal fingers, the blanket fell to the side revealing the faded serial numbers on her forearm. The family gathered, yet again, to say goodbye. This time her acrid breath had lost humidity, her respirations dry and raspy, the extremities mottled with a bluish tinge. Death had visited the neighborhood before. Lounged in the parlor. Nibbled on crackers and tea. But letting go was not so ...

Read more...

During the 1990s Dr. Jack Kevorkian drove his Volkswagen van through an unmet need in American medicine euthanizing 130 patients who felt death was the only solution to their suffering. He euthanized his "patients" with devices he named the "Thanatron" and the "Mercitron." The former allowed his patients to administer IV barbiturates and potassium while to latter delivered carbon monoxide. When convicted of manslaughter, he told the court, “Dying is ...

Read more...

In his lifetime, William Shakespeare wrote almost 120,000 lines and about 900,000 words. His 37 plays and 154 sonnets burnished his reputation as the unrivaled wordsmith of the English language. So what would the Bard, who had something to say about everything, have said about palliative care of the suffering of the sick? Although I couldn’t resurrect him from his venerated grave, I could unearth quotes from his collective works ...

Read more...

The tragic case of Alfie Evans has roiled Great Britain and the world. Alfie was a two-year-old child in the United Kingdom with an unknown degenerative brain disease who eventually deteriorated to the point that he required life support. His brain had become mostly liquid, and he could not see, speak, or hear. Alder Hey Hospital decided his condition was terminal and irreversible and wanted to stop ...

Read more...

As a retired physician who has written a book about end-of-life issues for elderly patients, I have placed myself in an awkward position. According to most guidelines, at age 67, I am elderly. How will I approach the end of my life? Not only do my personal medical concerns career around in the echo chamber of my own mind, but I have the added challenge of trying to follow my own ...

Read more...

38 Pages
Join 141,000+ subscribers

Get the best of KevinMD in your inbox

Sign me up! It's free. 
close-link
✓ Join 141,000+ subscribers 
✓ Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories
Subscribe. It's free.
close-image