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Being Mortal


An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life...
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Discuss Being Mortal by Atul Gawande:
Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

Created: 09/01/17

Replies: 17

Posted Sep. 01, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?


Posted Sep. 12, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elise

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 36

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I have been present with my father in law and my father during their final stages of life, and they both died in a hospital getting treatments they didn't need. My father in law was in his final stages of cancer and they were giving him antibiotics for infection. My father was in final stages of heart failure and they wanted to put him on dialysis - which we refused. Too much emphasis is put on keeping a person alive regardless of their suffering. I would not want to stay alive if it is going to just prolong my suffering.


Posted Sep. 12, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gloria

Join Date: 03/11/15

Posts: 60

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I was there when both my parents died. They were both in nursing homes where they were treated well (especially since there were family members here every day). Neither appeared to suffer and for that I am eternally grateful. Still, if I can avoid the nursing home, I would like to. But I am not averse to accepting help when I get old and frail


Posted Sep. 12, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
renem

Join Date: 12/01/16

Posts: 185

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

The final stages of my father's short life (48 years old) was spent in the ICU after he had a blood clot travel to his lung when he was recovering at home after his third heart attack. The doctors in ICU gave him drugs to paralyze him so that his heart would not be under as much stress. My mother gave the hospital permission to do this because her understanding was that he would get strong enough to receive a heart transplant. The saddest part was when my father was bypassed for a transplant because he was an enlisted active duty military member and an officer that was also on the transplant list was put ahead of him with the permission of the base commander. My father did not live long enough to get a new heart. He died in the ICU at 2:00am after my family went home to get some sleep. So very sad. He was not able to have closure before his death due to the drugs that kept him paralyzed. We can all wish that we will be lucky enough to have the time to say good-bye to those we love and settle affairs. If we plan early and have discussions about our mortality then maybe we can be reassured that at the time of death we had our say in how we wanted the end to be.


Posted Sep. 12, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 101

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I felt helpless and unable to act. If I had know the goals of my grandmother and my aunt, I would have been a more useful person.


Posted Sep. 12, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 179

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

My mother-in-law died of Alzheimer's. She no longer recognized any of us, couldn't eat on her own, needed to be changed, etc. She had a stroke and we were told she could be put on life support. Her husband and my husband (her son) both said "No, she wouldn't want that." Her other son, was aghast that we were "letting her die!" Yes, it was time. There was no quality of life left. She'd actually already been "gone" a long time. If I were terminal, I wouldn't want unnecessary life-saving measures taken. Let the person die with dignity and as little pain as possible.


Posted Sep. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josephinej

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 39

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I watched my brother die of cirrhosis of the liver, and it was excruciating. He fought very hard to stay alive, and for the most part the hospitals (he was in 2 different ones) and nursing homes (again, 2 different ones) were very respectful of his decisions. I was torn - he was in so much pain but kept wanting new treatments. I don't think I'd do that - but then I know it's easy to say when it's not happening to you. I honestly don't know what I'd do.


Posted Sep. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 93

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

My father had Alzheimer so he didn't know us when he died, it was a relief but still difficult. I was there everyday for his last week of life, though we didn't know it at the time. My regret is not telling him how much I loved him and will miss him when he is gone before he couldn't recognize me anymore. I hope I have the opportunity to say my good byes before I die. It is sad renem didn't have that opportunity.


Posted Sep. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothygo

Join Date: 03/27/13

Posts: 20

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I was present for my father's passing He was in hospice care and was medicated with morphine at the end. His passing was peaceful, painless, and allowed my sisters and my mother to be present. He was surrounded by those he loved most and we were comforted by one another I agree with Louisee that I would like to have taken the time prior to being on Morphine or going into a coma to say goodbye. Hospice allows for an at home death, but takes a toll on family members who become 24 hour caregivers.


Posted Sep. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianned

Join Date: 07/02/15

Posts: 54

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

Although my mother died in a hospital, her stay there was brief. For the most part, she was in my brother's home, and we visited her as often as possible (we lived three hours away). My father died in my sister's home, and she and I were there along with our husbands when he died. When he realized he was dying (from metastasized stomach cancer), he was severely depressed. Shortly afterwards, my sister arranged for hospice care, which changed his mood in ways I could never have imagined. His hospice companion not only took care of his physical needs during the day but also joked around with him and provided companionship since my sister and brother-in-law work. Everyone I've ever talked to who turned to hospice has had a positive experience.


Posted Sep. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josellek

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 7

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

For several years, I was a hospice volunteer providing respite for caregivers. Sometimes, it was quick and I was only there for one visit and sometimes many more. Giving a caregiver a break just to maybe take a walk or do something normal like go to the grocery and to spend time with the dying patient was a profound experience. I always felt it was such a privilege to be present at such an important time in a family's life and perhaps make the journey a better one for both the family and patient. It's such a wonderful program. That training and experience also was a huge help for me when my dad, grandmother, and younger brother were on hospice and dying (though admittedly, it is so different when it's your own family!). A book I've recommended to many is "Final Gifts" by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, two hospice nurses with fantastic insights.


Posted Sep. 16, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyh

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 124

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

As an RN I witnessed many people die as I cared for them. Also both parents with family with them during their final days. Some deaths were with dignity others not. I think people are making their wishes known to the family and MDs so the patients wishes are known and respected.


Posted Sep. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothym

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 37

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I saw my uncle die suddenly from a heart attack and while it was traumatic for those of us around him, it was - for him - a peaceful end. I also saw my father who died from Alzheimer's complications over several years when he went from being frustrated and confused to a vegetative state. The quick heart attack is better. I have been very clear to all of my family that I don't think life at any cost is worth maintaining - in other words, pull that plug. And I do think this was a necessary book that everyone should read.


Posted Sep. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggya

Join Date: 06/03/15

Posts: 22

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

My mother in laws death was very moving and powerful. She was in a hospital but medical professionals were only present to explain to the family what was happening as her body started to shut down. There was a whole hospice team that was with us all. We were asked if individually we would like to say our goodbyes. Then as a group, we held hands and said common prayers as we were all raised Catholic. She also had the last rites which was very consoling to not only her but the family. She was conscious throughout it all and wsurrounded by her loved ones!


Posted Sep. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 35

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

As a physician I have seen a number of deaths over the years. It most definitely impacted my decisions about end of life care personally. Dying in a hospital bed is heartbreakingly lonely even when surrounded by family.


Posted Sep. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janp

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 31

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

One friend, in particular, was a model of courage and grace in the final stages of life. I've not seen anyone die of a long, debilitating disease though. My mother was in failing health the last 6 months of her life but she remained alert and active. Her sudden death (pneumonia related) stunned me and I realized (too late) that she knew she was dying. I am so sorry she didn't acknowledge it so I could give her comfort. I already knew my own wishes, but since her death, I have made my wishes known to one and all.


Posted Sep. 26, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
robinm

Join Date: 02/09/13

Posts: 5

RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

My mother-in-law was in and out of the hospital and nursing home several times during the last 8 months of her life, after we moved her to an assisted living facility 10 minutes from us and hours from her friends. I was her most frequent visitor as my husband traveled frequently at the time. She wasn't seriously ill, but she wasn't well, either. I was the last person from outside the facility to see her alive on Thursday evening. I told her I would visit again on Saturday. A few hours after returning from bowling league on Friday night I got the phone call... She had complained that she was having trouble breathing. The nurse turned up her oxygen, and that was it. She was gone. She had a DNR order so she only had to die once, and I am thankful for that. My husband was in Thailand when she died. This was 12 years ago.

I collected her belongings in the morning, feeling empty, feeling guilty that she died without family at her side, feeling grateful that she had planned carefully enough that there were no difficult decisions for me to make.

I would love to die at home, whatever that looks like outside of a hospital, just going to sleep some night like my grandmother did in her nursing home and not showing up for breakfast in the morning. I have a "living will/advance directive" and my organ donor status in indicated on my driver's license and my children and husband know of my wishes to that end.

My parents are in their mid-80's and quite healthy and active, but I know that could change at any time. They have prepared well for what may come. I'm reading this book to make sure I am "ready" for them and for myself and my husband in the future.


Posted Nov. 07, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 51

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RE: Have you ever seen anyone die or been with someone in the final stages of life? Can you describe that experience? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?

I spent the better part of five days with my dad when he was in a coma and dying in the hospital. I have nothing but praise for the staff at that hospital as I felt they took better care of him and providing for his comfort in an unconscious state than other hospitals he had been in during the last 10 months of his life. I was able to hold his hand, spend time with him, and quiet him when they need to suction the saliva out of his mouth. After that I told my children that if I get sick, I want to go to that hospital. But just like my dad, I have no desire for extreme measures to be taken to save my life if I'm not going to come out the other side with a life worth living.


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