living your best to the end

Dr. Michael Fratkin is an enabler

“Most of my healing has little to do with medicine.” “My approach has more to do with being there, listening and helping people with a different approach.” Fratkin, entrepreneur creator of Resolution Care,  is a Palliative doctor whose conversations enable people to see things differently The 37-year old alcoholic He gives me an example: “A 37 year old guy who’d almost drunk himself to death – and not for the first time. I knew this patient because he came to us for Rehab. After 10 months of sobriety, he fell of the wagon: Shit happens.” A week ago, this 37 year old had a 75% chance of dying. Two weeks ago, his doctor wanted to change hospitals: “That’s what the family wants.” I was told. Fratkin thought it was crazy, and not medically indicated. “But I didn’t know enough about the situation, so I checked in on him. He was doing better, but was still high risk. I spoke to his mom via video. His mom loves him, and understands him as an alcoholic. Almost killed his liver with hepatitis, but she loves him.  So I asked: What do I need to know – as a parent – to better understand what’s going on, what you’re feeling. And I determined what the family really wants is for him have to have another chance, they want to know how they can help him to survive. Nobody explored that until I spoke to her. 45 min later, he and his mother were able to see things differently. There was healing in the space: if he dies today, there is healing in...
Vial of LIFE

Vial of LIFE

What is the Vial of LIFE Program It may sound like the fountain of youth, or miracle life-saver in a vial. It is neither. Instead, it’s information about your health care and wishes, stored in your fridge with a fridge sticker to announce its presence. LIFE stands for Lifesaving Information for Emergencies The Vial of LIFE sticker on your fridge alerts Emergency Response Teams (EMS) Paramedics and other health care providers who may come to your home that you have information in your fridge with directions about your health care and wishes. Why Vial of LIFE in the Fridge? In case of fire, your wishes will be preserved. What should be in your Vial of LIFE? There are many templates to help organize and detail your health conditions, concerns, medications and ‘next of kin’ or who to call in the event of an emergency. If you’ve completed Advance Directives such as BestEndings, or have a specific Do Not Revive instructions, a copy can be put with the Vial of LIFE documents. Many’s the time when a medical crisis at home requires emergency services, that too little is known about overall health, health conditions to be aware of (heart, kidney, lung disease or allergies to medicines) to provide proper treatment. A Vial of LIFE sticker on the front door is also recommended Below is a picture of one example of a Vial of LIFE form. To complete follow this link Vial Form Also read: Who’s Important? End of Life Machinery CPR: what does it really mean?...

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...

Palliative Care: Doing ‘nothing’ is not an option

 Dr Daphna Grossman wants to set the record straight “In healthcare it seems we talk about ‘doing everything’ or ‘doing nothing’. With Palliative care ‘nothing’ is not an option. Certainly there are standards and recommendations and then there’s the Art of Treatment: our goal is to treat the whole person – physical, psychological spiritual and social. We look at a person’s goal of care. Can this goal be achieved? Not all illnesses can be cured however, symptoms can be alleviated.” Dr. Grossman is deputy head of the Palliative Care Unit at Baycrest, an internationally respected academic health sciences centre focused on aging, and onsite resident coordinator for their palliative care unit. Her passion for palliative care radiates off her, and she paints this picture: deputy head of the palliative care unit, and site resident coordinator for palliative care. – See more at: http://www.baycrest.org/educate/insights-into-aging-101/presenters-bios/#sthash.yuLPPMKA.dpuf deputy head of the palliative care unit, and site resident coordinator for palliative care. – See more at: http://www.baycrest.org/educate/insights-into-aging-101/presenters-bios/#sthash.yuLPPMKA.dpuf deputy head of the palliative care unit, and site resident coordinator for palliative care. – See more at: http://www.baycrest.org/educate/insights-into-aging-101/presenters-bios/#sthash.yuLPPMKA.dpuf deputy head of the palliative care unit, and site resident coordinator for palliative care. – See more at: http://www.baycrest.org/educate/insights-into-aging-101/presenters-bios/#sthash.yuLPPMKA.dpufHer passion for palliative care radiates off her, paints this picture: “If we only treat patients in terms of their physical issues such as addressing their test results it’s like looking at a picture in black and white. We need to also address the context, the person, who they are, and what is important to them to paint a picture that is in colour.” The thing is, people,often perceive Palliative...

Comfort: How important is it to you at life’s end?

For many – perhaps most – suffering is the biggest worry about life’s end. Suffering doesn’t start and end with pain management. It includes peace of mind and comfort – both of which are highly individual, and can hold the keys to perception of and requirements for a ‘good death’: What comforts you, or what brings you comfort? What are your small pleasures, or what gives you pleasure?  What brings you peace of mind? Comfort and feeling good about herself is the gift a palliative doctor gave to a terminally ill patient who wanted no further medical treatment. He simply asked: “What would make this a good day for you?” “If I could sing” The patient, Dolly Baker (nee Thelma Botelho), was once a renowned songstress.  And sing she did. I have sat in countless meetings, workshops, think tanks, round-tables where everything but the word, comfort is used to help us on the way to as good a death as possible. Amongst the questions commonly asked: What are your values? What are your beliefs? What’s important to you? What are your goals of care? These may may all play into what makes us feel good,  and brings comfort, but these approaches often then require further probing and questioning which takes so much more of that precious thing that’s often in short supply: health care professionals time. Revealing answers, reveal simple solutions Answers about comfort reveal solutions that: often have nothing to do with medical interventions; can bring comfort and joy to attending healthcare professionals; can help family and friends support more purposefully and meaningfully; As a ‘layperson’ whose focus...