Blog 2: Letting Go

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The “Letting Go” article really opened my eyes. It makes some decent points about medicine and end of life care. What is medicine supposed to do for you at your end of life if it cannot cure you? In my opinion, I feel it should make you comfortable and pain free for as long as possible. Some people are willing to go through a lot, especially Sara Monopoli from the article. She went through tremendous amounts of chemotherapy and radiation to extend her life, but ultimately cancer won the battle. Like they said at the end of the article, she may have lived longer if she did not go through all those treatments that wore her body out. But then again, you have no idea what would have happened if she did not get the treatments. It may seem easy from an outsider’s point of view of what to do, but when you are actually in that situation it can be hard to give up. My aunt is battling breast cancer for the fourth time and she is doing surprisingly well with treatments this time around. There were many times through the treatment where the pain was almost too unbearable for her. She said numerous times that she does not know how much more of it she can handle. However, she kept on with the treatment and is feeling the best she has ever felt with cancer. So even in Sara’s case, it was always possible that she could get better. You never know unless you try.

In the event that there is nothing medicine can do to cure your illness, palliative care or hospice care would be the best option. Nobody wants to suffer, but this type of care can make dying a little bit easier. If I was in this situation I would want medicine to keep me as comfortable as possible, and allow me to eat my favorite foods and spend time with my friends and family while I am still my coherent self. Just like in the article, Jack Block said he would go through treatment if he could eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on TV.  If I ever got to the point in my life where I could not swallow and needed a feeding tube for the rest of my life, there is no way I could do that. To me, there is no point in prolonging an inevitable death by a couple months if it means I would be in pain for the majority of it or never have any independence. Doctors only focus on prolonging life; however, I think it should be based on the quality of life and that is what palliative and hospice focus on. Doctors should work on approaching patients with this option sooner, rather than later, to make sure they are comfortable in the dying process.

Remember Me

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s important that you do it because nobody else will.” Today is September 11th and the movie Remember Me portrays the events that happened on this day just 12 years ago and this quote was the most memorable line from the movie. In the beginning of the movie, the main character Tyler Hawkins, played by Robert Pattinson, is a rebellious, artistic, 22 year old NYU student, who is trying to get through the loss of his older brother, Michael, to suicide. He blames his father for not giving his children the proper attention and care a father should provide, especially for his 11 year old kid sister, Caroline, who is getting bullied in school. Through all of Tyler’s rage, he ends up getting arrested and dates the police officer’s daughter in revenge, where instead they fall in love, only to be short lived when Tyler goes to speak to his father who works in the World Trade Center. While he waits for his father to show up to his office, the tragedy of September 11th strikes and he is killed in the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjIlhtjo0BI

Death and dying is portrayed in this movie through tragedy. This recent tragedy has affected each and every one of us in some way or another and it is very moving. I think it is very helpful to watch this type of death. We learn that death can happen at any time or any place you just don’t know when. Not everybody dies a peaceful death or at an old age, like most people want us to believe. The news is always about how people get murdered, it’s never about somebody’s grandma dying peacefully in her sleep. This movie shows the horrific terrorist attack that killed thousands of innocent people, but follows the life of only one person. In the movie, Tyler’s family mourns his grave while wearing all black. They place stones on top of his grave to pay respect and there is a lot of hugging and crying. This is an accurate description of how many of us mourn the loss of a loved one today. After Tyler’s death, we see that his father has come to a realization that he needs to take better care of his daughter, after already losing two sons within a year.

Many of us take the death of a young person hard because they hardly got to live a full life. I have experienced a few deaths of students I went to school with and it is very hard to accept the fact that they are gone. I believe we live in a death denying culture. While I did not personally know any of the people who died in 9/11, I will never forget that day and how it impacted my life. Just like the students I went to school with, they will never be forgotten.