Sunday, August 08, 2010

A worthwhile, thought-provoking article

I came across this article in the New Yorker in one of my online support groups. It's a very well-written, thought-provoking article about how the medical profession, and the people in their care, prepare - or don't prepare - for the end of a terminally ill patient's life. It asks questions like, "when do we stop treatment?" and "how do we talk to patients about the end of their life?" and "when do we call in hospice?" and "what does it mean to bring in hospice?"

There are no right answers to those or any of the other questions raised there, but they're very important questions. Our culture doesn't deal with death very well. Many people have this idea that active treatment should go for as long as possible, even if it's not doing any real good; that there's always something else that can be thrown at the illness. Of course that's not always true, and in fact sometimes the treatment can do more harm and give a lower quality of life than if the person received no active treatment and just managed their symptoms.

The best thing about this article is that reading and then discussing it provides a way to talk about the issues presented there. Yes, it can be difficult to read because it's talking about people dying, and that's hard to think about, but sometimes the things most worth doing are the hardest to do. Reading this article is definitely worth doing: I highly recommend and strongly urge you all to read it.

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