Tag Archives: End of Life

Gingerbread

Olga Diganchina Astana, Kazakhstan   “Happy Memories” by Ekaterina Chingilidi. 2014. Published with Permission. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. -Mark Twain   Patients had mostly become faceless for me. I had treated and discharged so many of them as […]

They would rather go alone

Kera Morris Denver, Colorado, USA   La Solitude du Christ by French artist Alphonse Osbert, 1897. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Dad had been in and out of hospice for years. It had not occurred to me that you could go into hospice and come out on your own two feet, but it was apparently the case. When I got […]

Taking a History in the ICU: Social: Does your husband still smoke?

Sophia Valesca Görgens Atlanta, Georgia, USA   Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash He smokes when he thinks I’m not looking, she tells me, then glances at him as if expecting him to contradict her but the ventilator is pressed to his face and his eyes are lidded dim with midazolam for sedation, fentanyl for […]

Where am I when my digital footprint persists indefinitely?

Naomi Rachel Oldham West London, United Kingdom   “Dead Prescence in the Digital Age” by Naomi Rachel Oldham Exhibited in the Blyth Gallery May 9-24, 2018 Our digital selves remain present in the world even after we have died. Social media and email accounts, websites to which we have subscribed, photos, videos, and voice messages […]

Thinking of my dying grandmother at the Natural History Museum

Roxana Cazan Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States   Bosnian landscape. Photo by Melisa Javier-Wetklow.   At the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City, I am promised “the assemblage of nature’s ultimate machine,” its precise lurking, one foot crossing the Silurian, its simian lurch trapped behind shatterproof glass. I zigzag through the dinosaur world, the tender bend […]

Margaret Edson’s W;t: lessons on person-centered care

Atara Messinger Toronto, Ontario, Canada     “She slips off her bracelet. She loosens the ties and the top gown slides to the floor.” American playwright Margaret Edson’s 1998 play W;t has been described as “ninety minutes of suffering and death mitigated by a pelvic exam and a lecture on seventeenth-century poetry.”1 When W;t was […]

Until I get my strength back

Anne L. Rooney Oak Park, Illinois, USA   Hospice hands The emaciated woman lay scrunched in a fetal position with her back to me. I stood in the doorway to her cramped bedroom. “Hello, Loretta. Can I come in?” Loretta rolled over, squinting with suspicion. “You a nurse?” I nodded. “I’m a nurse who visits […]

A CV for posterity

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Lonely tree with timber by Anthony Papagiannis The British Medical Journal (BMJ) is one of the oldest and most eminent general medical journals. Among its many and varied features is a regular obituaries page. Departed members of all branches of the medical profession, academic teachers, researchers and Nobel Prize winners, […]

The morning ritual

Peter H. Berczeller Dordogne, France   Years ago, I heard the adage: “When you get up in the morning, and you don’t see your name in the Times obituaries, you’re good for another day.” I was young then, with no understanding of the seriousness beneath this seemingly witty remark. As a medicine resident, I was no […]

Why not let her go gently into that good night?

Victoria Lim Iowa City, Iowa, United States  Old woman dozing (1656) Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693) One early morning I was paged to see an eighty-five-year-old patient in the dialysis unit with low blood pressure. I learned that she had diabetes, hypertension, and diffuse atherosclerosis. In the past decade she had undergone four major surgeries for blocked […]