living your best to the end
Medically Assisted Dying: the benefits of the process

Medically Assisted Dying: the benefits of the process

Medically Assisted Dying When medical assistance in dying – MAID  (also referred to as Medically Assisted Dying – MAD and Physician Assisted Dying – PAD ) was just a twinkle in eye in most of North America, I began my layman’s journey into learning all things end of life – encompassing much more than ‘help me die’. Now, with medical assistance in dying taking center stage, I’ve made it my business to attend every Town Hall, Presentation and Info session. While the ‘license to kill’ crowd takes every opportunity to insist it’s suicide and murder, little time and attention is paid to two important outcomes: When MAID is refused Benefits of the process requesting MAID Taking a leaf from the ‘suicide and murder’ crowd, consider what happens when the MAID request is refused: You are condemning someone to a prison of suffering. A lifetime sentence with no parole. For some, it’s akin to sanctioning their torture. Of those who say, with a sneer in their voice:  “oh you can off yourself anytime you want, it’s the ‘medically assisted’ we object to”  Consider the aforementioned – imprisoned by their own disease whose very condition prevents them from taking matters into their own hands. Suicide: an act of desperation. MAID: an act of contemplation …with benefits. And therein lies an unexpected benefit of applying for MAID. In the poignant podcast series, ‘Better off Dead’ Andrew Denton takes personal umbrage when he hears a 24 year old applied for MAID. “I think of the years ahead of her – a mother, a wife, a career woman.” To this well-meaning sentiment, my rejoinder...
Elderly and Sleep

Elderly and Sleep

Best Mattress and Sleep Positions for Elders Guest post: Sarah Cummings, The Sleep Advisor We need less sleep as we get older. Everyone knows that right? Wrong! Completely and utterly wrong. The myth that the need to sleep drops as we advance in years is one of those random misconceptions that somehow takes hold and persists – kind of like how if you eat something within five seconds of it falling on the floor it will be fine. No, it won’t. The truth is that after we have passed through adolescence, the need for sleep remains largely constant throughout our adult life. What changes is our ability to get good quality sleep. More than half of older people have a least one complaint about how well they sleep. So what do we do? Well some of us will compensate and make up the shortfall with daytime naps, others will basically just get used to being tired and achy thinking it to be a part of the natural ageing process. Which to extent it is, but you don’t have to give Father Time such a helping hand! I’m here to tell you that you can take back some control over your sleep and try and maximise how much you get and how good you feel when you wake up. All you need to do is pay a little attention to what you sleep on and what position you adopt. What type of mattress do you need? Every body is unique. What works for Mrs Stevens nextdoor might not work for you. It shouldn’t surprise you then that there is no simple...
Ricky’s mother had a ‘good death’

Ricky’s mother had a ‘good death’

Of the three siblings, Ricky – the sole daughter – was closest to her mother, Anna. “When my marriage ended, my kids and I lived with my mother. We all adored her.” In the last three years of her life Anna- who died at age 91 – was beset by Dementia. “It was more than memory loss – it was her wonderful personality that vanished.” In spite of the pain of her beloved mother disappearing, Ricky took care of her until the end. It was an end ‘strategy’ that the sibs agreed on: no heroic measures. No CPR should her heart stop, no medications to jump-start her system, no breathing machines and no feeding tubes. “The day she passed the entire family had a get together in her room. We brought take out food and ate our picnic sitting by her saying our farewells .I returned later that evening to have time with her alone. I curled up around her, and whispered, it’s ok to go. She died later.” As spokesperson, Ricky stood firm in the face of health care professionals who repeatedly tried to sway the agreed-upon ‘natural death’ route. Afterwards, she was asked to give an interview about why she and her sibs could stand their ground.“The sibs and I did not see the point of meds that would prolong a life that was obviously ending… comfort was our priority and we felt that would be what she would have chosen had she been able.”...
A beautiful death

A beautiful death

“My mother was ‘dying’ for about 10 years – with her sickness, she seemed often on the brink of death, and then she’d rally. We’d all said our goodbyes a number of times. But on the day she actually died, my father was in her bed, his arm around her, holding on to her. He’d been in this position for a long time when my former brother-in-law came to visit. “My mother and her former son-in-law had kept up a really special relationship even after my sister had divorced him. They were very close and spent a fair bit of time together. My father would call him ‘her spiritual companion’. When he came into my mother’s room, she was looking grey and frail. My father’s arm was falling asleep holding her. ‘Can you take over here?’ he asked when former brother-in-law appeared. Take over he did, cradling my mother against him. My mother looked at him and her face lit up. Her cheeks became rosy and her eyes twinkled. She looked like a teenager again. She smiled, and took her last breath. It was a beautiful death. I was glad to have been there. Interestingly, when I was about 5 years old, I had a dream that my mother died in the arms of a younger man. It was the only such dream I’d ever had.”  ...
Taking Palliative Care Mainstream with the help of ePatients

Taking Palliative Care Mainstream with the help of ePatients

“It quite honestly surprises me (the new kid on the block) that there aren’t standard services to build Palliative Care.” Charlie Blotner, 21-year old co-founder of the tweetchat for those with brain tumours #btsm.  In learning more about Palliative Care, it just made sense that it should be part of standard services. Alas, not: If you’ve seen one #palliative care program, you’ve seen . . . one palliative care program – Jill Mendlen #cccc17 #sharedstandards — Allison Soeller, PhD (@allisonsoeller) March 14, 2017 Charlie and I were amongst 17 Patients at the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California’s Summit. The theme:  ‘Taking Palliative Care Mainstream’  Dialogue and discovery were the other ‘themes’ of the Summit as patients’ perceptions of Palliative Care evolved.  Palliative as ‘the beginning of life’: “I thought palliative care = end of life, now I see it is the beginning of life.” – #ePatient after our first workshop #palliative #CCCC17 — Elizabeth Jameson (@jamesonfineart) March 13, 2017 Peter Kafka was the ePatient in question in Elizabeth Jameson’s tweet.  His  comment proved that there’s still myth-busting to do.  Peter is one of the founders of a peer-support group for men with cancer.  A feat unto itself: getting men to a cancer support group. Peter will bring his newfound Palliative knowledge back to the group. Patients included It’s extraordinary to have patients and caregivers together in the same room with healthcare professionals whose practice and outlook embodies person-centered care.  They are open to hearing from us. But first, the pre-conference Planning Session. To work through the principles of Palliative Care, we ePatients met the night before the Summit....