Extreme Measures by Jessica Nutik Zitter M.D.
Recently, I published a post that included some reflections on my work; I am a board-certified clinical chaplain in a hospital. During my training, and continuing through my first paid assignment, I primarily worked with oncology patients and the hospital's palliative care consult service/team; it was during this time that I discovered a passion for uncovering and acknowledging the choices patients make regarding their care, and the response to those choices by medical staff and family members.
No matter your age or health condition, talking about death is hard; there never seems to be a "good time" to bring up the topic, as it merely serves to remind each of us of our own mortality. Yet it is, quite possibly, one of the most important, significant conversations you will ever have and I encourage (okay, I've been known to nag) everyone to seek out resources and guidance in an effort to GET IT DONE.
Thanks to my experience in this setting I can tell you, with confidence, that there are many things human beings endure during an illness, a hospitalization, that are far worse than death. As an advocate of appropriate palliative care and end-of-life decision-making discussions, my goal is never to diminish the feelings, the emotional toll, of families; instead, I attempt to help them work through their feelings and begin to recognize what is truly best for their loved one.
Dr. Zitter has provided an amazing resource for readers both within and outside the healthcare field; by sharing her own experiences, the stories that she has gathered, she illuminates some of the most difficult situations and the impact on all of the parties involved. This book is not filled with medical jargon, biased commentary, or sad reflections; it is an insightful look into the unknown world of emergency and intensive medicine and the way in which the capabilities, as they have expanded, have increased the need for better communication.
Those of you who have personal experience with these situations, via family members and loved ones, will relate, but I believe that there are connections to be found by all of us; I highly recommend this book and hope it will encourage you to work toward a conversation about what you would want if/when you are no longer able to express your wishes.