Category Archive: Palliative care

Have difficult conversations now to avoid chaos later

“Before I leave, I want to talk to you about something very important. I want to make sure that nothing is ever done against your wishes, so it doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 98 years of age, if you’re a patient being admitted to the hospital, I …

There’s no textbook for when your father is dying

On my first day of medical school, my father, a dentist, told me he’d just been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Cancer had crept back into my life — except this time not into my body. At age 12, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. After an aggressive surgery, I was tumor-free for 10 […]

Congress Targets Misuse Of Hospice Drugs

In the bipartisan opioid bill headed to the president’s desk, hospice workers would be allowed to destroy patients’ unneeded opioids, reducing the risk that families misuse them.

The influence of a physician’s father

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 […]

The existential benefits of ginger ale

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 […]

Who is caring for the care workers?

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 […]

Rallying at the end of life

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 […]

Be willing to fail your patients

“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 […]

A story of persistence in the face of death

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 […]

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