This week I will pay tribute to a health-conscious colleague who passed away suddenly and gracefully while snowboarding three years ago. In recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week, my hospital is hosting an awards luncheon for EMS providers and I am presenting the Dr. Paul Johnson Award to an individual that honors and displays valor and … [Read more...] about CONSCIOUS DYING
On this Mother’s Day I remembered Mom’s advice, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Nevertheless, patients have the right to be informed about their medical condition and treatment options. A frail sixty-six year old male patient with brittle bones presented to the Emergency Department after breaking his foot and … [Read more...] about MEDICAL ETIQUETTE
The botched execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary last week reminds me of what we as a society fail to view as being right regarding death. Most of us believe that no one deserves to die; therefore, lengthy appeals are filed to ensure that no one dies unjustly or in an untimely manner. From the perspective that no one deserves to die, I … [Read more...] about SOME PEOPLE DESERVE TO DIE
Bucket lists commence the end of life; experiences we wish to realize prior to death. Sadly, I care for patients who tend to create laundry lists; dirty items that seem tedious, laborious, dreary, uninspired and messy. Typical laundry lists include various complaints, perceived crimes or desired intentions. The extent to which these lists exist … [Read more...] about WHEN DYING BECOMES MESSY
My formation in the Catholic Church reminds me to be more Christ-like in my thoughts and actions. Easter reminds the faithful that life potentiates rebirth. As the world revolves, we continually move from a state of darkness to light; death to dawn, suffering to awareness. As I attend to most people who assume the role of being Christ-like when … [Read more...] about WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
Do you have a healthcare directive? This daunting question is posed to Emergency Room patients daily and is often received with a virtual shrug and response, “Do I need it today or may I think about it?” Being an Emergency Medicine physician, I can attest to people making and taking little time for life and death decisions. National Healthcare … [Read more...] about MAKING SENSE OF HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVES
A remarkable story hit the news last week that described a teachable moment about commitment. For forty years Bruce Farrer, an English teacher in Canada, had his freshman students write a letter to themselves that expressed their hopes and dreams. Similar to time capsules, he stowed the letters and mailed them back to the students twenty years … [Read more...] about NOTE TO SELF
The term Death Midwife strikes the tone of being both sexist and purely decadent; relishing the idea of being cradled in a woman's arms while dying. The concept is not likely politically correct; but could it be morally correct? Similar to a birth midwife, a death midwife nurtures and guides delivery from life to death. A death midwife naturally … [Read more...] about Dying – Is This Women’s Work?