Browsing All Posts filed under »palliative care«

The Corpse Leads, We Follow: Medical Intervention at the End of Life

January 10, 2013 by


Those of us who labor in the techno-confused trenches of American medicine need little reminder of how the profit driven machine seems to ramp up the closer a person is to death. We’ve counted the twenty drips hung around the patient in ICU Bed 2, glittering and glowing like the control panel of a jet […]

New Jersey’s Death with Dignity Bill Will Impact Grieving Children

September 27, 2012 by


On September 24, Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) proposed the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act. Legislation around bills concerning end-of-life care is often fueled with emotion. I have the interesting perspective of having studied Medical Ethics with renowned Theologian and Ethicist Dr. Margaret Farley in 2005, which is when Terry Schiavo was in the spotlight. […]

Plan On a Messy Ending

June 10, 2012 by


As we all know, we can’t script the end of our lives, choose the time, date or even the disease that will kill us. What we can plan is how much medical intervention is heaved our way in the final days when our families are overcome by grief and possibly confusing and conflicting information. But […]

“The line between ‘extraordinary measures’ and ‘palliative care'”: An Interview with Laurie Foos

May 22, 2012 by


Laurie Foos is the author of the novels In Utero, Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist, Twinship, Bingo Under the Crucifix, and Before Elvis There Was Nothing. She currently teaches at Lesley University and lives on Long Island. Foos’ essay, “On Bearing Witness,” recounts helping her father through his long illness and death. […]

Psychedelics Make a Comeback in Treating End of Life Anxiety

April 25, 2012 by


What would you do if you were given six months to live and with each passing day you felt your world closing in around you, your options limited, your days relentlessly ticking by? Would you drop acid? You might if you were being treated by a really progressive psychiatrist. After transcendent experiences, those induced by […]

Can a One-page Form Help Facilitate End-of-Life Discussions?

March 14, 2012 by


Citizens in Iowa will have some help discussing their wishes related to end-of-life care with their physicians. A law that goes into effect July 1 creates a new document, the IPOST or Iowa Physician’s Order for Scope of Treatment, intended to facilitate discussion of patient preferences and govern physicians’ responses. With numerous studies suggesting patients […]

What’s Better Than a Massage?

March 6, 2012 by


“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” as Joan Didion famously said. That is, the attempt to make sense of our lives is, in a way, crucial to our very survival. A new study indicates it’s a lifelong impulse. Results of a study that assigned 120 terminally-ill cancer patients to either 7 hour-long sessions […]

Dependent at Home

February 26, 2012 by


Usually when I meet patients in homecare, they’ve either arrived back home after a brief hospital stay or “graduated” from inpatient rehab and are ready to get back to their old routines.  Every now and then, I’ll meet a family whose loved one did not progress in the inpatient environment, but decided to return home […]

El Duende

February 18, 2012 by


It was not unusual, when I worked with a nurse on the palliative response crisis team, to be called to see a patient at home in the middle of the night. We would spot the house a block away by the light glowing from one of the bedrooms; most often there was an oxygen sign […]

When Doctors are Patients

February 15, 2012 by


Patients given a diagnosis of terminal cancer often want to “do everything.” Doctors and other medical professionals, however, rarely choose this path. Martin Scurr explains his reasoning in an essay in the Daily Mail: Should I discover tomorrow that I have advanced, life-threatening cancer, I won’t go rushing to the doctors for a heavily invasive […]