I borrowed www.angelovolandes.com/the-conversation/The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care by Angelo Volandes, M. D. from the library. It's now sitting in my Amazon shopping cart, just waiting to show up on my doorstep. It's that good.
The Conversation refers to a discussion about desires for end-of-life care. It's based on four areas.
This isn't an easy discussion for most people and the author offered several tips for starting The Conversation. He also included four additional questions for those who are already ill.
We all need to think about these questions, and the sooner the better. We need to share our wishes with our family. We need to talk with our medical practitioners. We need complete the paperwork to support our wishes and decisions, which may include advance directives, living wills, and identifying health care proxies.
Dr. Volandes illustrated the importance of The Conversation with stories of his experiences as a physician. He shared stories of patients and their families who wanted every life-prolonging intervention available as well as those who opted for comfort care. These real-life examples were vivid and relatable.
One of Dr. Volandes' achievements was the production of a video to help patients and their families make decisions about end-of-life care. This is a topic that is uncomfortable for many people, including health care professionals. The video contains information about the available options and facts related to each. For example, the video explains that fewer than 10% of patients with advanced cancer who receive CPR in the hospital survive and eventually leave the hospital. Fewer than 10%. Dr. Volandes found that so many people requested full code / advanced CPR because they believed their lives would be relatively enjoyable afterwards, even while hospitalized. They didn't know they'd likely be on ventilators with several broken ribs and a steady stream of pain medication that rendered them unable to interact with their families.
Whatever your current state of health, please consider starting The Conversation with your family. Dr. Volandes wrote about a couple who had known each other for 50 years, yet the type of care Dr. Volandes believed the patient wanted, based on his conversation with him, was very different than the type of care the patient's wife advocated. She said, "We never really spoke about this." Take the time to talk about it now.
How do you want to live?
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.