Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: "Being Mortal" written by Atul Gawande

Wow!  Just wow!  What an eye opening book I have just finished.  It's good to see someone in the medical profession write down, on paper, things I have often wondered myself.  

This book has made me think about, sadly yet happily, end of life and the decisions that must be made.  As someone who is currently single and childless, I have a lot of decisions to make with regards to how I want my life to be should I continue on for years and years.  Dr. Gawande really gave me the "meat" of what is out there.  

He discusses hospice care vs. hospital care.  Options that make you sicker and therefore unable to enjoy life vs. enjoying the time you have knowing that you are dying.  He discusses nursing homes, and assisted living homes and a combination of the two.  

Basically, I've made up my mind.  At the ripe old age of 42 and while I still have my wits about me I know what I want.  What I don't want when I'm 60 or 70 or 80 or any year in between, are endless trips to the hospital, chance procedures attempting to keep me alive,   For all the talk about old people and healthcare have we really talked to the old people?  What do they want? 

Sure, a doctor's job is to keep your body healthy but guess what?  You will die someday.  It is inevitable.  You are not nor will you ever be mortal.  At least not with what's out there these days.  So really, all a doctor can do is prolong your life.  But at what cost to you and your family?  

So, here's the deal folks...I want to live and I want to be able to "do."  I don't want to be tied to machines and drugs that make me ill, or unable to function on a day to day basis.  I don't want to die in a hospital.  I watched my grandma do that and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  How much better would we all have been, especially her, if we'd just said, "goodbye" instead of focusing on keeping her alive one more day.  

With the anniversary of her death coming up I realize how much we put her through.  She was ready and we wouldn't let her go.  Why?  Honestly, because we are selfish when it comes to love.  And when we have it, we don't want to lose it.  Our thoughts kept saying, "surely the doctors can do something, give her another pill, whatever."  For months she kept saying she wanted to go home (to South Carolina).  She lasted a while.  Got to see family and friends and then, it was just time.  But she had to die in a hospital.  Well I don't want that.  And yes, I'm going to get a living will to state that. 

So I challenge everyone, sit down and picture yourself as your grandparent or someone with a disease so debilitating that really, your time is limited anyway because treatments are limited.  How much are you willing to take?  How much are you willing to sacrifice?  If you have family, what options will you give them?  

I encourage everyone to read "Being Mortal".  Maybe your answer will surprise you at the end.  

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