Friday, July 30, 2010

How do we spend our days?

A blog post by Peter Bregman linked to two really interesting other pieces: an interactive graphic showing how different portions of the population spend their time each day, and a New Yorker article by Atul Gawande asking some pretty profound questions about what we -- and health care providers -- ought to do when death is clearly approaching. I think about this latter topic probably more than I should, but maybe that's understandable since my father and Ben's parents are all in their 80s and having had the experience of my mother's death in a hospice in 2002. When I read these things about all this denial by doctors pussy-footing around and patients who can't accept the inevitability of death and prepare appropriately, I think, jeez, I could do better than that, I would face the truth and concentrate on quality of life, yadda yadda. But maybe I'm kidding myself. Especially with young children, I might fight to the end for a few more minutes with them.

The thing that sprang out at me from Gawande's article was the realization that the American medical establishment gives terminal patients an either/or choice: use all aggressive medical measures to fight the disease, or opt for hospice -- in other words, give up, admit the disease will kill you soon, and focus on quality rather than quantity of life. Gawande notes some amazing stats about overall costs of end-of-life care (not to mention patient and family satisfaction) when patients are offered both -- in other words, keep treating the disease as much as the patient wishes, but also involve hospice staff in things like pain management and what to do in a crisis that doesn't necessarily involve calling 911 and rushing to intensive care. It's human nature not to give up, so it's not surprising that few people avail themselves of hospice when it's presented as what you do when you stop treatment and stop hoping.

I have to think seriously about these issues while there's still time because of this:


Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Damn cats. If you have a cat you're probably in the same boat -- just click to take the quiz. Also discover why it's more enjoyable to be punched in the privates than to call customer service. (The author says "punched in the testicles," but women don't like customer service any better than men do. I think.)Then there are the rare occasions when one slips into a sneaky hate spiral. but I'm not going there, because it's Friday and the weather is fabulous and I had a delicious Indian buffet for lunch and the Red Sox are finally playing at a civilized hour after a stupidly long West Coast road trip. And also? I finally got to see Lindsay Lohan is all about -- we watched "Herbie: Fully Loaded" starring her and Matt Dillon (FIOS On Demand: kids' movies under $2 -- yeah baby!). So now I have an easier time picturing her in solitary for 90 days. Because I like to know all about CFU (celebrities fucking up). I wonder how Briney Spears is doing? Ah who cares. It's Friday.

1 comment:

Odie Langley said...

My mother died in 02 as well. At first they sent her home to die and hospice was involved. Then my sisters and I started taking care of her in turns and she sparked back to her former self and before long was making regular trips to the beauty parlor. We ended up having an awesome year with her until congestive heart failure and a stroke finally ended her life. So you shouldn't ever just give up because there may be more life left in our loved ones than doctors think.

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