Tag Archives: Spring 2011

Streptococcus and me

Andrea Meyerhoff Baltimore, Maryland, United States   Alpha and Beta hemolytic streptococci grown on blood agar I respect the streptococcus. It is a bacterium—a whole genus of them—that excels at making people sick. It may shape a childhood understanding of illness, rupture ties that bind a family, or drive an appreciation for a great moment […]

The US hospice movement: redressing modern medicine

Emily Bethea Chicago, Illinois, USA   Hospices de Beaune Founded in 1443 in Beaune, France by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor and needy. Photography by Thierry Unlike its modern concept, hospice began as “a house of rest and entertainment” not only “for pilgrims, travelers, or strangers” but also “for […]

End-of-life care and contingent vs. non-contingent duties

Ronald W. Pies Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Introduction Mr. Joseph B, a 70-year-old widower and retired college professor, is hospitalized in the final stages of metastatic pancreatic carcinoma. His doctors estimate that he has “three or four weeks” to live. The patient is well aware of his prognosis, and, as he puts it, “I […]

Must life always be prolonged?

Patrick D. Guinan Chicago, Illinois, United States   This is an open-ended question and, for that reason, difficult to answer. We agree that life is a natural good and should not be willfully terminated (self-defense and a just war being exceptions). But in many instances life can be prolonged, almost indefinitely, by such means as parenteral […]

A dying patient’s perspective on truth-telling

Shimon M. Glick Beer Sheva, Israel   Mr. H, a 60-year-old farmer with liver metastases from a gastric carcinoma, had been in the hospital for quite some time. Jaundiced from his condition, he turned to one of the residents on rounds and said, “Several days ago, I asked you how much time I have to […]

The good death

Raeford E Brown, Jr Lexington, Kentucky, USA   Physicians and nurses experience death all too often. We recognize the gray hue, the fetid odor, and chill of a body that has been failing for days or months. In hospital halls, we hurriedly pass families as they struggle to deal with the loss of their loved […]

Our father who art on Earth, still

Peter Sullivan Rochester, New York, United States   She didn’t like the way he just stood there, staring. First it was at the sink, looking out the window, holding a just-lathered dish midair with the water running. Then later in the evening he’d sat in the LazyBoy, which faced the living room TV. From time […]

Time

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   Photography by Aldaron Selfishly, time is either too short or too long, the moment never appreciated. Mrs. Jones was a 69-year-old female with widely metastatic ovarian cancer, diagnosed during an emergency room visit for abdominal pain. After consultation with an oncologist, she elected to forgo chemotherapy and […]

Turning points

Loretta S. Downs Chicago, Illinois, USA   My mother’s end-of-life was 15 years long. It began the day my father died and she became dependent upon her children to fill the roles he had played throughout their 61-year marriage. Loretta Downs and Mom by Loretta Downs We managed relatively well, and her health continued to […]

A Christmas party

Loretta S. Downs Chicago, Illinois, USA   Loretta and her mother A war started the day my mother was forced to move into a nursing home. After years of slow progression, the stenosis in her back refused to let her live independently any longer. From the moment she arrived, I spent five days a week […]