Friday, March 6, 2015
I kept seeing this book at the top of the New York Times Non-fiction Best Sellers list, but a post on Goodreads from my friend Sarah Caldwell Hancock convinced me to get this book from the library. While it deals with the very difficult topic of our mortality, I believe it should be required reading for all humans to assist us in making end-of-life decisions.
Topics range from nursing homes to assisted and independent living facilities to hospice. The author, a surgeon, discusses what he has learned from multiple patients as well as from his own father's death. He talks about how many doctors believe it is there job to focus only on health and safety, while what needs to be addressed is enabling well being.
I think everyone should consider the vital questions posed by Dr. Gawande:
1) What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes?
2) What are your fears and what are your hopes?
3) What are the trade offs you are willing to make and not willing to make?
4) What is the course of action that best serves this understanding?
For example, he had one patient with cancer who said quality of life would be the ability to eat chocolate ice cream and read, and was willing to risk paralysis. Another felt a risk of paralysis made surgery an unacceptable course.
Please take the time to read this important book!