Archive for Decisions

The Wonder Pills

Hospice is one of the rare times when all the medical professionals involved in caring for a patient are on the same page.

I wonder how this relates to medications.

Prior to hospice care, it’s not unusual for one doctor to prescribe a pill for your cranky prostate and another doctor to make sure you’re taking a blood thinner and a third doctor to suggest an antidepressant. You, the thoughtful patient, will mention the various pills you’re taking to each physician. If a new doctor claims that a new “wonder drug” is worth trying, you will also tell him or her about the other medications. The doctor(s) will assure you that everything is compatible. The nurse(s) are also reassuring when you worry about your growing list of pills, tablet and doses. The pharmacist(s), of course, will add insights.

So many voices! So many pills!

Nowadays, as we grapple with the illnesses that come with the accumulation of birthdays, our medicine cabinets can become chock-full of prescription bottles. We want to feel better. Take that pill. We want to return to what we once felt like. Try this pill. Grace Slick of the long-ago ‘60s rock band Jefferson Airplane, famously sang . . .

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall… Read More →

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DNR Decisions

I overheard a chaplain chatting with a social worker about a patient.

“She [the patient] asked me,” the chaplain said, “if a DNR order would interfere with her getting to heaven.”

My two colleagues slowly moved away from me. I don’t know if the social worker responded, or what the chaplain had explained to the patient after she asked her heavenly question. Maybe my two colleagues continued talking about this patient or shifted to other subjects.

I’m not sure anyone could tell the patient about heaven’s entry requirements. Different faith traditions have different views of the “better place” after death. Humans have pondered Valhalla and Nirvana and Paradise and Heaven for millennia. I’ve read and heard some Christians describe heaven as far more difficult to enter than an Ivy League school. I’ve read and heard other believers claim the “pearly gates” are wide and welcoming for every soul. Read More →

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Even the Best of Plans…

Don’t make any major changes in the first year . . .

When I’m leading a grief support group for spouses, I always include an open-ended “check in” time. I invite participants to share what has recently happened: did they have a question, was there a good/bad experience during the week, or a hopeful/hurtful encounter with a friend? Whatever they want to talk about, we talk about it. Their needs always trump my plans.

I recall a group member, the moment I invited sharing, asking, “Why do people tell me to sell the house?”

It was a few months after a beloved spouse had died and several well-intentioned friends were pushing this person to downsize. The house was too big. Maintaining it meant nonstop responsibilities. Now, they said, it’s only you rattling around in a bunch of empty rooms. Read More →

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