By Saara Mohammed
The topic of end-of-life palliative care has been on the rise lately. Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande recently came out with a book on the subject entitled Being Mortal. Hearing Mr. Gawande being interviewed about his book on the radio recently, I remembered another story I had heard on the radio: Nancy Updike’s piece on This American Life about her experience visiting her Mother’s husband in his last days in hospice.
Her story had more hope, and touched on a number of methods used by the nurses and physicians at the facility that made family members looking after loved ones at the end of their life feel at least a little bit better.
My own experience with the topic comes from watching as my father travelled back and forth from Michigan to Hyderabad, India, trying to take as best care of his parents that he could in their last few months of life. The experience was grueling and exhausting, physically and emotionally.
In the next few posts, I will explore what the phrase “end of life care” means. Does it mean moving your loved ones to a hospice, far from invasive and potentially medical procedures? Is it the work of social workers adept at handing end of life situations and the politics involved? Is it physicians being sensitive to the needs of the family as well as the patient?
I want to look at a part of medicine that is, understandably, difficult to talk about. But I think it’s an area of medicine that should be discussed more in order to do what medicine, in my opinion, is supposed to do: bring some hope to a seemingly hopeless situation.
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