“Letting Go” by Atul Gawande was a real eye opener and at times hard for me to read. The emotional roller coaster the people within this article went through is astounding to me. When one thinks of these situations in which a person is close to death or suffering from a terminal illness, we’re always hopeful that the person will have a miraculous recovery and be free of whatever disease they may have. Unfortunately, for most people suffering from terminal illnesses this is not the case. The story of Sara really stuck with me and was upsetting for a variety of reasons. First of all, she was young and just had a baby. She did everything the right way in her life, didn’t smoke, ate healthy and exercised but ends up with lung cancer. Its shocking to me that none of the treatment given to her ever really helped her out. Doing four rounds of chemotherapy as well as trying all types of different medications that all ended up being no good to her. I can imagine how her family must have been feeling, isn’t there anything else they can to do to help her? When asked the question what should medicine do when it cannot save your life is something I’ve thought about for a few weeks now. To most people medicine is thought of as a “life saver” or something that will make the illness “go away” but unfortunately this is not necessarily the case and sometimes on the contrary. The choice with medicine is to either take it in the hopes that a person can be cured, mended or maintained or let nature take its course. That decision will be different for every person. In my opinion medicine should be able to sustain your life and should make whatever aliment a person has more bearable. Isn’t that the point of medicine and medical technologies in the first place, to treat and mend sick people? The amount of pain and suffering that people go through on a daily basis when they have a terminal illness or a chronic disease is extremely saddening. Everyone knows that its inevitable they are going to die but it would be comforting to know that when nearing the end, medicine gave them a chance.
There are many movies and TV shows in which the main character dies. While thinking of this prompt, the first movie that comes to mind is Nights in Rodanthe. The main character, Dr. Paul Flanner, played by Richard Gere, was killed while he was volunteering at a medical clinic in Ecuador. The movie is a love story turned tragedy. Adrienne, played by Diane Lane, is a divorced mother who travels to Rodanthe, North Carolina for the weekend to watch over a bed and breakfast her best friend owns. While tending to the bed and breakfast, Adrienne encounters Paul, the only guest booked at the bed and breakfast all weekend. At first they clash, but shortly after they fall in love. After what ended up being a romantic weekend Paul and Adrienne part ways as Paul is leaving for Ecuador to reach out to his estranged son and help at a medical clinic. Adrienne and Paul write back in forth to each other while he is in Ecuador. The two plan to meet at Adrienne’s house after Paul’s flight returns to the states. Paul never showed up. The next day, Paul’s son arrives at Adrienne’s house to tell her Paul died in a mudslide. Adrienne is heartbroken and it shows her going through the grieving process.
The United States is a death defying country. A great example is in this movie, where Adrienne does not believe she lost the love of her life and once she does, she is at a complete loss as what to do next. This scene in the movie is a great representation of what most people do when they lose someone. It is seen throughout our country how many people cannot accept death. More so, we see that many people never fully comprehend a loved one has moved on. Death of a loved one is never easy to deal with but being more open and understanding of how people grieve can make the process more bearable.
I think the media, in general, portrays death as either very tragic or in a state of denial and at times can be sensationalized. The media seems to send us mixed signals when it comes to death and how we deal with it. For example, we see that death is typically dramatized or ignored through movies, TV and radio. In the media, especially in fictional works, the deaths of characters seem to be extreme. I do not necessarily think the media depicts an accurate portrayal of how most people die or reactions to other people dying, especially in our country.