Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

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This NY Times bestseller is about how to make decisions at the end of one’s life. Dr. Gawande recounts the decisions he faced with his father as well as the stories of a few of his patients. After many years as a practicing physician he is still not comfortable with the conversations doctors, patients and family members should have but all too often gloss over. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

The questions that seem simple can often give the family a clear idea of what should be done when the patient can no longer speak for themselves. One woman discussed with her father whether or not he should have a surgery that came with risks. His answer was, “Will I still be able to eat chocolate ice cream and watch football?” So they decided to proceed. In the middle of the surgery there were complications and the surgeon asked the daughter if they should stop or continue. After determining that the outcome would allow her father to eat ice cream and watch football, they proceeded. After the surgery he was a quadriplegic but could enjoy the two things he desired for a good life.

I found it very interesting that people who opt for Hospice care instead of a continuous round of procedures actually live longer and have a higher quality of life in their last days.

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