This is a response to Deb Discenza's article requesting a one page informational sheet informing a patient about hospice or palliative care. This would allow the patient and their family to make decisions regarding end of life care before it becomes a necessity. I am a crisis care hospice nurse. I am the one who comes to your home, whether it is  a million dollar beachfront mansion, or a single wide mobile ...

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“Are you saying, doctor, that mom’s not getting better?” Eleanor asked. “I’m afraid so.” I replied. “Someone should have mentioned this to me before.” she said, before returning her gaze to my shoes. We were talking about Eleanor and Roger’s mother, Bertha, who had been hospitalized in our intensive care unit for three weeks. Bertha, 67, had been admitted with an exacerbation of congestive heart failure. Despite everyone’s best efforts, she’d steadily grown ...

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Dear Doctors: I am writing no less than 45 days after my mother died from a GI bleed from ovarian cancer.  Not once did my mother's team of doctors mention palliative care.  It was not until days and even hours before her death that hospice was discussed and implemented. Our family was blindsided by this. While no one likes to talk about the topic of death, it is important to remember that ...

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People often ask me how I became a hospice volunteer. For the record, nobody is more surprised than I am. You know how some people can walk into a patient’s room, plump pillows, and make all the right comments? Years ago, I was not that person. I never really felt comfortable visiting sick people. Working in the healthcare arena seemed depressing. Besides, I had made a conscious decision to become ...

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“I’ve been a fighter all my life,” said my new patient, a middle aged man with thinning hair, a worried wife, and a dismal prognosis. He had  worked all his life as a plumber with no health insurance.  When he was healthy, it was okay.  But now he was sick. I was meeting him for the first time in the community health center where I work as a family physician, tending ...

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What causes a doctor to commit suicide? A story about a radiation oncologist from Springfield, IL brought this strange case to my attention. Dr. Thomas G. Shanahan committed suicide by cutting his throat in November of 2011. He was respected in his field, having published many research papers and traveled the world helping to set up brachytherapy clinics in several countries. He also had been an acting alderman in his ...

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