Comparing That Death to This Death

Robin Williams and Matt Damon in 1997’s Good Will Hunting.

Which death is the most difficult to death with? On the list below, which person should be in “better shape” and has probably “moved on” in their life?

  • Her child was stillborn. It’s a year since the death.
  • His grandmother died from dementia. It’s a year since the death.
  • Their teen was killed in a traffic accident. It’s a year since the death.
  • Children gather to honor a father’s birthday. It’s a year since the death.
  • She lays a Christmas wreath on her husband’s grave. It’s a year since the death.

How would you rank them? (Should you rank them?)

Unfortunately, I think many folks—including me—publicly or privately rank the severity of another’s person’s situation. We compare and contrast with other facets of life: careers, homes, our child’s achievements, cars, last year’s vacation, and so forth. Advertising relentlessly reinforces judgment, from the new solar panels on the neighbor’s roof to the newest smartphone in a classmate’s hand. The people beside you or across the street or in the pharmaceutical commercial are better off than you. (Or, whew, they are a smidgen worse than you!)

If we compare the things of life, why not compare the ways of death? Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Dementia’s FAST Score

A patient with dementia must have a F.A.S.T. score of seven (7) to qualify for hospice care.

FAST is an acronym for the Reisberg Functional Assessment STaging Scale. A scale nicknamed FAST to determine dementia’s severity is blatantly ironic. As a loved one’s dementia (Alzheimer’s, Lewy Bodies, etc.) worsens, he or she typically becomes, well, slower.

Currently the Reisberg scale (example found here) contains various stages and sub-categories, including these two:

  • Stage 3: Decreased job functioning evident to coworkers; difficulty in traveling to new locations
  • Stage 4: Decreased ability to perform complex tasks (e.g., planning dinner for guests, handling finances)

Those who have cared for someone with dementia usually sense the “slowing down” of a loved one only after he or she has worsened. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Increased Difficulty in Swallowing

The patient has dysphagia . . . huh?

I might react by responding, “That sounds Greek to me!” In other words, I don’t honestly don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense.

In the case of dysphagia, it’s literally a Greek word and probably hard to pronounce (dis-fay-gee-a) for most folks. The roots of the word are relatively simple. Dys is a prefix for, “No.” Think of the more commonly used dysfunctional or—because of novels like the Hunger Games series—an unsettling future world referred to as a dystopia. Dysfunction = no function. Dystopia = no good place.

The suffix phagia, though more obscure, is also relatively simple: eating. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather