Monday, March 9, 2015

My Current Theme

My current theme appears to be death. Not that I am thinking so much about my own eventual demise, more about the process and ritual around death and dying. I seem to be stumbling across a lot of articles, books, and podcasts theses days about mortality and I've been so fascinated and appalled and intrigued by it all. Thought I would share a few, in case any of you are interested.

CBC has a great radio show called, Ideas, which recently ran a 3 part series called, "Death Becomes Us". Wow. Spent three evenings walking in the hilly, drizzly Irish mist listening to those. Very captivating and eye-opening. Who knew the origins of embalming? Who knew about death midwives? Who knew people buy concrete blocks to go around coffins? Woodland burial sites? I certainly was ignorant on all of these fronts. I found the whole series quite good, but I think episode 3 was my favorite. Of course the whole thing led to a panicked call to Duncan regarding changes to my death and dying wishes! I think he's become enured to these sorts of phone calls, no longer worried something is actual wrong with me, just that I've read something or watched a TED talk which has caused these addendums.

I also recently finished, "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. He's just such a legendary author, I instantly read everything of his that I can track down. Some of the discussions and concepts highlighted in Being Mortal have already changed my fledgling practice. If you want to hear him speak on these matters he also did the Reith Lectures on BBC recently.

And, a smattering of op-eds, old articles and new, and the shifting landscape in Canadian medicine as we face the potential changes to physician assisted suicide. Death is all around us in health care. It's easy to focus on the potassium levels, the next chemo drug, the ventilator settings. The real effort for me is pulling back and looking at all of these aspects of dying in a bigger sense, and including myself in the picture.


Just Me said...

Atul Gawande is also seemingly a very nice man. I emailed him because I found one of his first articles in the NY Times to be so amazingly well done that I made my entire class of oncology students read it. He responded so quickly and appreciatively. I had no idea he wrote a book. I think he should be mandatory for doctors to read.

Anonymous said...

I went looking for the Ideas series after you posted this and found it as a podcast. I've been listening to it over the last couple of weeks. It's fascinating and really well done. So, thanks for the recommendation.

Shrtstormtrooper said...

If you have time, Stiff by Mary Roach is an excellent and pretty easy read. It covers the history of what happens to the human body after death - from crash test dummy stand-ins to embalming to medical research - in a very humorous way.

One of my favorite books. And again, it's always good to see you blogging. I truly enjoy reading your posts - thanks for writing!

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