Friday, April 27, 2018

Coming soon...

In a post two weeks ago, I said I planned to unveil an idea to "promote conversations about care at end of life and other death-related topics."

Things are taking a little longer than expected, so until next Thursday, here's a hint.

Also, too: a gentle re-branding. Have a good weekend if you're above ground.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Reading those books

I'm happy and surprised at the response to last week's post about books I find helpful for non-clinicians - partly because of the traffic, but mostly because many folks added their own suggestions.

One reader suggested the 2014 memoir by Roz Chast, "Can't we talk about something more pleasant?" That was an oversight. A friend never returned the copy I loaned her two years ago, so I had completely forgotten about it. The  comment prompted me to track it down and get it back. The book definitely has a spot on my list.

I also said I would re-read the pile through 2018, and I started with the one on the top - "The Undertaking" by Thomas Lynch. Rather than do a synopsis or review, I thought I'd draw a few cartoons to illustrate a brief passage early in the book (page 8): 

You can also watch the full PBS Frontline episode featuring Lynch and his work as poet/undertaker.

The other reads suggested by members of the Facebook groups Slow Medicine, Hospice and End of Life Care, Deathcaring, Medical Error Transparency, Truth Abut Nursing, and Deathling Den:

Five Invitations, by Frank Ostaseski
Die Wise, by Stephen Jenkinson
Final Gifts, by Maggie Callanan
Gone From My Sight, by Barbara Karnes
The Promised Landing, and Notes From the Waiting Room, by Bart Windrum
Dying Well, by Ira Byock, MD
Life's Last Gift, by Charles Garfield
Awake at the Bedside, edited by Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast
My Mother, Your Mother, by Dennis McCullough, MD

Finally, another of mine that seems to make sense here - Die Broke, by Mark Levine and Stephen Pollan.

Thanks for reading. See you next time.

Updated: I replaced the last cartoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book pile for non-clinicians

a pile of books

I usually draw from this pile whenever someone who isn’t a health care clinician asks me to suggest a book on the general topic of serious illness, care at end of life, or what happens after.

It’s not exclusive or exhaustive, but good enough for a start.

These were written for the general public. Five are by physicians, one by an epidemiologist, two by funeral directors, one by a nurse and a dog, and two by journalists - one who also wrote obituaries for Princess Diana, Jacqueline Onassis, Katherine Hepburn, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, and Marlon Brando.

I’m also going to re-read each of them as the year winds along.

Titles and authors
(from the bottom, up)

The Anatomy of Hope, Jerome Groopman, MD
How We Die, Sherwin B. Nuland, MD
Extreme Measures, Jessica Nutter Zitter, MD
Aging With Grace, David Snowdon, PhD
The Dead Beat, Marilyn Johnson
Stay of Execution, Stewart Alsop
JJ’s Journey, Tracy Calhoun (CHPN) and JJ
From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande, MD
The Conversation, Angelo Volandes, MD
The Undertaking, Thomas Lynch

Thursday, April 12, 2018

And the final number was zero

Distinguished UCSF nursing and medical faculty

I was recently asked to substitute for someone for a presentation and discussion with hospice clinical staff, on the subject of caring for patients and families with advanced dementia at end of life.

That request came on the heels of two other events - starting a rigorous online cartooning program, and stumbling across an excellent GeriPal podcast on nursing home residents and palliative care.

So, I decided to combine all three. This video is the result. I'll let it speak for itself, and will just add that it led to some really good discussion.

Now let's see what Caroline, Eric, and Alex think of their portraits...


On another note, it's been a few weeks since my last post. I think the two brief essays about Jeanne's wedding ring took more out of me than I thought, emotionally.

I attended the 3-day AAHPM/HPNA Annual Assembly, which took up a lot of my time and attention to get ready for, get to, and follow up on - and I'm far from done with that, too. There was lots of good stuff on constipation and delirium, the low-hanging fruit of EOL care. I plan to write about those workshops and more, in the weeks and months ahead.

I also want to write up something more than my simple comment on an HPNA Facebook post expressing my disappointment in their inexplicable decision to give a "Presidential Citation" to the execrable Senior Senator from Maine.

Finally, I'm working on an idea to promote conversations about care at end of life and other death-related topics that I plan to unveil next Thursday.

Thanks for reading. See you again soon.