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Death and Dying

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Matters of the Heart
I just read a couple of posts in my thread Fears - What are they? and the last couple talked about the fear of dying

Personally, I think that the American culture has more hangs up about dying than many other countries. For many others, its just another chapter in one's life.

In the '60s, '70's and part of the '80's most medical/doctor TV and Movies always ended with the patient surviving, no matter how gravely sick they might have been. Recent media has changed that view and has delivered media which is much more accurate and true.

Fear of Death?

- From a Surgery?
- From a Illness?
- From a Accident?

Well, there isn't a lot we can do as people to prevent the last two except to live carefully and take precautionary methods. The first one to an extent is under our control.

We research the doctor who is going to perform the surgery, we research the Hospital, the Nursing staff, other medical staff,etc Doing all of this goes a long way to minimize any potential mishap.

But do they happen? Sure. What are the statistics? I am sure depending on what source you get it from you will get different views.

There was a moive made about 7 years ago. Two lines I will always remember. One, when an gravely injured warrior said to his father: Father, Its my time to go

and later on when a commander told one of his assistants
It is NOT your time

I dont know how much stock you can put into worlds like this, but some things we really do not have any control off
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • Ron this is an interesting thread. I agree that our society has changed the way we look at living and dying. While everyone wants to live as long as possible, Americans have made it an art form. But who's to blame for this?

    I think alot of it leads back to money and how it has become a business to die. We have a medical/insurance world that exists by treating patients. Almost every family has a tale to tell of someone who was kept alive by extradinary measures that might not have been the best choice. My MIL had open heart surgery after being hospitalized for a month and after 10 yrs on dialysis. Then 6 months later she spent the last week of her life on a respirator, against her DNR order, because a doctor decided it would help. I'm sure the bills were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    We also have a multitude of facilities to care for people so that their families can go on with their lives. For just a few thousand dollars a month you can put Granny in a nursing home where she will be given some level of care. Another big business.

    And then there are the elaborate funerals and burials. It disgusts me so much I can't even think about it.

    Death is just another stage of life. Just like you can't skip junior high you can't skip dying. :)
  • Well, the reality is, no one that has ever lived on this planet will escape death from one's mortal body; the soul is what has to carry on.
    This conversation will gain more weight with the uproar over "death panels" - the democrats are playing it down - "hey we are just finally going to pay doctors to talk to patients about NOT doing extensive means in final phases of life" (and getting patients to sign Advance Directives to that effect.) The reality is - they're trying to reduce the $$$ spent in the last few weeks of life. With the government potentially footing more and more of the bill, it will be an even more pressing subject.
    I have worked hospice care, and been around many who knew "it was time for them to go" - almost as if they picked the day. I have also encountered patients who said they wanted to die, even attempted suicide, but when facing death begged the doctors to try and save them.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    I can not use names/people/doctors/places, but where my wife works as a Pulmonologist Rehab Coordinator and part of the Ethics committee, I get to hear about many stories (way after they happen).

    All to often the stories are similar.

    - Aging parent in their late 80's
    - Have a DNR in place along with all other medical related documents.
    - However, once they see their parent in this situation, the through out the DNR and all else and tell the doctors to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to save the life of their parent.

    So, while many know what should be done in those situations, when we are faced with it right up front, how will we react?

    In my own parent situation, it was different. My father suffered for almost 15 years in/out of hospitals, but 6 months before he died, he moved closer to where we live and had me promise him NOT to put him in any hospital or nursing home and that he wanted to die at home. Eventually he did, but only after having his grand children around many times a week, I was visiting daily, so to him that was his greatest comfort.

    Then my mother, who was in perfect health, I found her dead in bed this past May, no suffering massive heart attack.

    SO, I was spared having to be placed in the situation on weather to let some one go or do everything. Knowing when to pull the plug is probably a very honorable and humane action, but how many of us are up to that.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    sure its the Medical field or Insurance companies that want to prolong life.

    Yes, I am convinced there are some young eager doctors who want to almost seem invincible, so they will go a great lengths not to lose a patient. If they do, its almost like they themselves have failed.

    Insurance companies, well, maybe thats two folded. Many times with aging parents, their Insurance policies really arent enough to withstand long hospital stays. But nursing homes, hospice care, etc,
    that there are ways to 'get' the money to pay to prolong life.

    I dont believe there are any Right or Wrong answers when it comes to this.

    Its an individual action that the people going through it must decide upon. Hopefully they get all the information from the medical field to make the best decision for everyone.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I'll share a not so funny story.. in fact it was down right cruel and inhuman.

    After 6 months in the hospital and a week on a respirator the doctors gathered my husbands siblings and told us that there was no hope. THey could not wean her from the respirator and staying on it would artificially prolong her life and force them to continue these crazy measures.

    The children and her closest sister all agreed. THat this is what she would want. She had already signed a DNR and a health care directive that should have kept her off the respirator but didn't. So the doctor has us all go in again to see her but tells us it will take 2-3 hrs for the paperwork to go through the hospital system. So we waited. And waited. Then the risk office decides that my MIL is competent and has to make the decision!!

    So this poor woman was asked by a team of doctor, with no family present, if she wanted the respirator removed. They explained that she most likely would not be able to breath on her own and that they couldn't put the tube back in. So in esensce they asked her if she wanted to do this knowing she would die. And she said yes.

    She died 18 hrs after they removed the tube. She was ready to die and wanted to do so with dignity. Those last hours were a blessing. Yes I do believe we have a right to say how we wish to die. Now if we could only convince the medical professionals that we are capable of doing so.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    IF the patient is capable for thinking on their own, then no matter what Advance care directive, DNR documents or family wishes, the medical field will listen to the patient. So, think about this, a patient on a dying bed, but their mind is keen. The doctor asked them Do you want to live? Of course would be the normal response. But if that same question was asked to the family, we might have different responses.

    Once a patient is designated as NOT being able to think rationally on their own, thats when the others in the family step in. And thats is when we all hope that the remaining family is in agreement. Nothing gets more messy when you have a family of 3or so siblings looking after a parent and they all have different opinions on what to do next.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com

  • Fear of Death?

    - From a Surgery?
    - From a Illness?
    - From a Accident?
    I guess I'm an odd ball. Between having emergency surgery that I was told was high risk of me not making it off the table, to 3 times having Anaphylaxis thanks to bee stings (flat lined on 2 of them), and crashing (was told shouldn't have made it), I don't fear death.

    Do I want to avoid it, heck yeah! I had a high risk job most of my career, so "that chapter" of "life" was always present. I keep it in mind like most, and like most, try to avoid it where I can. My hubby knows my final wishes, have a living will, then of course the regular (give out the goodies) will. Of all the things that should have killed me, but didn't, the ones that *did* scare the pants off of me? The Anaphylaxis shock entry! Until you've been put through the ultimate "bear" hug from hell before all goes black, whew! I guess for me, that is one of those where you "see it coming" vs in your sleep, or on the table, or the mutt out of control crashes T-bone into you? Okay, as I said, I'm an odd ball...

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Who recently passed from cancer. She had insurance and medicare. And could have spent a lot of their money to prolong her life for a short time. And it wouldn't be a quality life. And she knew it. She said, It's my time to go. I've lived a good life to 83. And have much to be grateful for. Kids grand kids great grand children. And so much more! She went with grace and dignity. She accepted her fate.
    It brings to mind what a friend told me a few years ago, "Ain't non of us goin to git out of here alive!".........Ain't it the truth!
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • There are worse things than death - I do know that... I don't think it's so bad.
  • Last year we had a close family member suffer for months in a vegetative state before family members reached consensus on letting her go by stopping all tube feeding. It was a horrible time for all of us and led to many discussions between my husband and myself about what each of US would want if something happened. But once it was over - we of course did nothing to put our wishes in writing.

    When I went to the Hospital for my pre-op appointment they asked me if I was interested in creating a medical Power of Attorney document and both my husband and I seized on the opportunity. We met with the Hospital Chaplains and outlined exactly what we wanted, designated the decision makers and had the documents put on file with the network of hospitals as well as giving copies to our primary physicians and our children.

    We are not afraid to die and wish to spare our families the agony of guilt that accompanies the decision to let a person go when their time has come. By putting our wishes into writing, we have hopefully spared them some pain.
  • Is it all the unfinished business we leave from either a full life, or the unfulfilled one? did we try our hardest every single day to embrace our lifes gifts and detriments?

    Is there too much life in some to let it go?
    Or is it regrets at having awaited so long to realise the finality at the end of term.

    where is the fulfillment, where is the regret...
    deep inside? did you not do enough to fulfill the desire? or is the cup full and time to return to the headwaters of life.

    I watched Dad fade away in home hospice, watched the rock turn back into the dust of the endless cycle, to him returning to innocence.
    The finality of the moment was shared by his family around him, peaceful, quiet, we witnessed the mistery of his passing.
    there are no unanswered questions, Our faith system and rational realization of the fact, helped...US, with the end of life.
    I hade seen the dark face a number of times in my career hauling hazardous chemicals, It is simply a fact to be faced, delt with and moved on from.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Ron,
    The key thing is to respect what the individual wants, my sister dying of terminal cancer had a DNR of her request and these have to be negotiated if possible prior to any eventuality. We are and should be humane and not allow others to suffer for our own hope and desires.

    I had to decide when my dad was being kept alive on a ventilator what was the best option for him, the reality of knowing that no long term option was possible and that reality of letting go and as Dilauro said, it is never as easy when we are given that decision. With the possibility that we all may live longer these specific issues will become more prevalent. Jim has a point that quality of life is important and again perhaps it is up to the individual to make all those possibilities known, I respected my sisters courage in knowing her fate and still holding her dignity to the end, it was a courageous example of accepting reality and the implications.

    Take care. John
  • My first encounter with the Advanced Directive was when I went in for my first surgery: cervical laminectomy. I was asked if I had one in the pre-op area when they were admitting a group of us to the hospital for surgery.

    I read the document very carefully and signed it, giving my wife authority if I turned out not being in control of my faculties. I've been married 36 1/2 years. I trust my wife. Granted, she believes as do I in 'until death do you part'. She's offered to facilitate that process numerous times over the years while in the heat of battle, lol.

    As for dying, yeah, I'm scared of it. I don't want to go through it. I know I will. Personally, my faith system is strong and I believe in life after death. Some do, some don't. It helps me a whole lot.

    Very interesting 'thread'. I value all your comments and input.

    Ken GreyEagle
  • Hi all,
    My sister-in-law recently died of cancer. She lived in Oregon(assisted suicide is legal) and had all the papers signed and meds available when she decided she wanted to die. Her cancer pain was not very controllable with pain medication and she hated to be drugged and unable to communicate. I will say that she wanted to live so much(she was 60), but she knew it was her time. She was able to take the meds provided and peacefully died in her sleep 30 minutes later. She was able to say goodbye to all she loved. It was a peaceful way to die. If she didn't live in Oregon she would have suffered even with a DNR/she wanted to control her own death.

    Here is an interesting statistic: The US spends more money on care of the dying then care of newborns/young children. Dying is a "big business" in the US
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,368
    The line from the old Indian (Old Lodge Skins) in the movie Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman)1970 "Today is a good day to die"

    Me, Myself, I believe, "that death is a logical conclusion to an ilogical life - therefore it is not the mystery of death that I fear .... its the continued mystery of life".(d 2011)

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!  (Click on Welcome to Spine-Health)

  • it was about 4 sheets of A4 both sides and it was about the operation and {should i have it ..
    as i am classed as high risk } to me that means i could die or be paralyzed or stroke our \[being a smoker and too heavy and inactive etc} .he read the letter and we met ..by accident in the super market some time after he received the letter ..so i asked ..did you get my letter and what did you make of it ...now my doc being the man he is ..said one think ,tony.,he said ,,when its your time ,,its yours time !! and no consultant will be able to change that .this got me thinking ...if i die under anesthetic ..i wont be that bothered will i.but it will effect my family ..well my lovely wife anyway ..i think they worse outcome is stoking out and being totally incapacitated and not being able to communicate and being incontinent ..i am sorry but i would rather die and get it over with ...lovely i want the operation to go well and be out of pain and me off pain killers ..or something near that! ..when you get in to the realms of high risk surgery you have to be prepared that things wont go your way ..and getting to grips with that is very hard ..i havent even made a will yet ..and i should ...but at 44 i feel that i should have another 30 + year left ..or have i??? the big question ..i am not scared of death i am scared of being made incapacitated and having to live in residential care for the rest of my life ..to me and to many i think that this would be the worse case scenario.there is probably a whole topic of conversation on this subject ....have a good think about what you would do ??
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I do not fear death but I do fear stupid mistakes in the operating room, distracted nurses or doctors, doctors that don't listen, etc. I almost died during surgery due to a reaction to a drug they administered prior to surgery....and I think the worst thing that could happen TO me would be to have complications that would render me unable to care for myself or make my own decisions.

    I saw my own father die this way (after 18 days of being in and out of comas) due to a stupid doctor thinking he knew best, even when we told him of my father's drug alergies.... my father died piece by piece as they had to amputate parts of him due to the reaction to a dye during angioplasty. My father survived being shot down twice during the war, he survived being shot down over China...but he couldn't survive a doctors ego. He begged my brother and I to bring one of his guns when he was coherent...and I think we both regreted not doing so for years.

    Death can be a hard discussion to have, but eventually everyone does it... why make it harder on THEM (your feelings,outside of your own death don't matter... theirs do!)

    I'm quite horrified when I hear of people that disregard their parents or loved ones wishes because of their own feelings.... sometimes people need to be reminded... it's not all about YOU. :(

    Do I understand wanting to keep them here? Of course, I'd want to keep my mom here... but not against her own already expressed wishes... that would be as cruel and as undaughterlike as I can think of.

    I'm not sure why people have such a hard time with death... it's not like it's ever gone away, you know?

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