Medicine at EOL

Death is inevitable, it will come to all of us, some sooner than later but we will all die one day or another. Over the past few hundred centuries humans have been lucky enough to have reached a level of medical advancement that has allowed us to prolong the inevitable; but that is all it has done, prolong it, give us some more time even if it is at the cost of a peaceful death. Time does come where medicine cannot and will not be able to save your life, at which point we should all take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You will die, but do you want to die as comfortable as possible around your loved ones or in pain with several tubes inserted into you. The article by Atul Gawande was heartbreaking with all those stories of people with their impending deaths around the corner. Most patients chose hospice care over being in a hospital because they wanted to end their lives with as little pain and as much peace and happiness as possible. I am not saying that everyone should choose hospice care because some people might just be genuinely happier if they die fighting, knowing that they never gave up but that is something that should be completely up to the patient. It is my life, my death is around the corner and as a consenting adult I should be able to decide how I want to spend my last few moments (knowing me, in bed eating ice cream, watching TV, with my loved ones around me). It might be a selfish decision but as family, they should understand.  Below is a cartoon of what I felt some of the people in the short story felt like at times, they were tired because they were sick and they were even sicker because they were tired. Life sustaining treatment just makes things worse at times; hospice or palliative care should be the answer when medicine can no longer save your life.


Grey’s Anatomy


Grey’s Anatomy is probably one of the few TV  shows that continuously kills off main characters and is still successfully on air. The show is mainly about a close group of doctors and their lives. Everyday in and out they deal with death, whether it’s in their personal lives or with their patients. The clip above is from a scene in season 6 when they found out that their ‘John Doe’ patient is actually their best friend and coworker, George O’malley and when they fail to go through with a DNR for another best friend and coworker, Izzie Stevens . I feel as is this was an accurate portrayal, they did everything they could to save the patients life as doctors but when it came to people that were like family to them they went above and beyond the call of duty.
The different portrayals of death in the media tend to be misleading, they make death seem much more easier to deal with. Someone dies, they mourn them for a week or so and move on with their lives, when in reality it’s much more difficult. You don’t get through someone’s death in a week, some people aren’t ever able to get through it at all.  The media paints an easy picture of death when in reality it’s much harder. All they show is a death and maybe a funeral, no one ever shows how hard it is to inform the family or to deal with who gets the persons belongings or bills if their wasn’t a will or how hard it is to plan a funeral, as if the pain of not having them there isn’t already bad enough. The media does show different portrayals of death but none of them present the cold hard facts because the fact is no one turns on their TV to see that. People want to be entertained not depressed.  The use of language with euphemisms such as ” they’re in a better place” only enhances the fact that we’re a death denying culture. We all die but we believe that if we turn our heads on it for long enough, it’ll go away, it’s almost as if we don’t want to see it coming.