Tuesday, March 9, 2010

End of Life

At HealthCentral, we are talking about "death and dying" during the month of March in addition to it being MS Education and Awareness Month on MultipleSclerosisCentral.com. Here's my post I wrote for MyRACentral...

Thinking about the end of life, at any age, is not a pleasant situation. We spend so much time talking about how to live well with chronic illness that we often fail to make our desires known in the event that life takes a downturn. We may not have considered how we’d like to be treated, or not treated, in our final days. I have only thought about this because I’ve watched relatives have drastically different experiences.

When my grandmother was dying several years ago, it was difficult for my father and his siblings to have the responsibility of deciding what type of life-saving procedures she may or may not have wanted. Even after she and her doctor had signed a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, it failed to prevent the EMTs from taking her to the hospital after a nervous home health aide panicked and called 9-1-1. This event further prolonged her life and suffering, but it did grant me an opportunity to see her “one last time.”

Read this post in its entirety:

Engage with Grace: Planning for the End of Life with Grace and Dignity


  1. [resubmitted due to typos!]


    This topic seems to be coming up a lot lately. I would really like to encourage folks to do an Advanced Directive (Living Will) and other documents before they need to. As a previous Hospice volunteer, I'd always meant to do so but found myself working on them a couple weeks before brain surgery. Really bad timing.

    I like the one page slide. Is a good place to start a conversation with my family. People think they know, but today the decisions are so much more complicated than "pull the plug". And, depending on the scenario, you may choose to avoid going there.

    Thanks for bringing this up Lisa.


  2. Even if you know a person's wishes for end-of-life care, you can be faced with situations where it's hard to know what they would want you to do. My father was very clear about not wanting extraordinary measures taken to keep him alive. OK, fine. Got it. When he wound up in intensive care, on a respirator, dialysis, the whole 9 yards, do you do surgery? When he's still alive after the first surgery, do you do another? For each decision, there is a range of possible outcomes. You have to guess what kind of quality of life is the most likely result, knowing there are some he would thank you for, and some he would not.

    As it turned out, he lived, and he's glad we made the choices we did, but it could very easily have gone another way. I thought I knew what my dad would have wanted if he were able to make the decisions himself, but when the situation arose it was a lot harder than I expected. Had we not talked about it in advance, it would've been harder still.