This site has been recommending this Website for a number of years. The creator of the site has been contributing witty, brilliant, funny and candid writings about the subtitle: “What it’s really like to get old.”
What better to write about any topic hat to have experienced it.
For those of you who may have been following Ronnie Bennett’s journey, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago. Today’s column is entitled, “And Now, Hospice.”
Ronnie, we admire your strength, courage, foresight and candor. Thank for taking us along on your journey.
In a Boston ICU, staff members orchestrate goodbyes over Zoom and comfort patients who would otherwise die alone.
(JIM GOLDBERG / MAGNUM)
by Sarah Zhang
“When the coronavirus came to Boston, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital noticed how silent certain floors became. Any patients who could be discharged were discharged. Anyone who could stay away stayed away. ‘The hospital had this eerie quiet,’ says Jane deLima Thomas, the director of palliative care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But in the intensive-care units set up for COVID-19, machines beeped and whirred in room after room of the sickest patients. Those patients were sedated, intubated, and isolated. Many of them would die.
“Palliative care is about providing comfort—physical and emotional—to patients who are seriously ill, including those who may be close to death. Before the pandemic, deLima Thomas’s team worked with patients with kidney disease or cancer or heart failure, but this spring, they all switched to COVID-19. They embedded themselves in the ICUs. Palliative care is a field especially invested in the power of a hug, a steadying hand, and a smile. In other words, palliative care is made especially difficult by a virus that spreads through human contact.
“The first day the palliative-care doctors walked into the ICUs, Thomas says, “we felt like tourists.” They were dressed in business casual, while their ICU colleagues raced around in scrubs and masks. But the palliative-care team—which includes physicians, nurses, chaplains, and social workers—found ways to integrate themselves. In the early days of the pandemic, when protective gear was scarce, no visitors were allowed. Palliative caregivers, along with ICU nurses, held iPads cocooned in plastic bags so families could say goodbye on Zoom. They were sometimes the only one in the room when a patient died, otherwise alone. I interviewed several members of the Boston-based palliative-care team, and their stories, which have been condensed and edited for clarity, are below.”
Read this article in its entirety at The Atlantic, click here.
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“The practice of palliative care is changing under the pandemic: Doctors and nurses are learning new ways to help patients and families communicate their treatment goals and make decisions about end-of-life care.” – (Reza Estakhrian/Getty Images)
“Seattle mourned the news: Elizabeth and Robert Mar died of COVID-19 within a day of each other. They would have celebrated 50 years of marriage in August.
“But their deaths at the end of March were not the same. Liz, a vivacious matriarch at 72, died after two weeks sedated on a ventilator. Her analytical engineer husband, Robert, 78, chose no aggressive measures. He was able to communicate with their adult children until nearly the end.
“Clinician Darrell Owens helped the Mar family navigate this incredibly difficult time.”
“‘Well, I have to go in a few more minutes,’ she explained. She and her husband had recently updated their will, fixing married names of their children. ‘You need to be sure that the documents that the kids would need to have are in order. And so we’re going downstairs to find the notary.’”
“Margaret Sullivan posing in one of her homemade masks, cut from an old sock. ‘Several people have seen pictures of them and they’ve very kindly asked if they could send us real masks,’ she said.” – Tyrone Turner/WAMU
by Jacob Fenston and Tyrone Turner
“In our first conversation by phone, Margaret Sullivan told me maybe she wasn’t a good fit for my reporting project, on people whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. After all, she had a comfortable life and was being well taken care of in a retirement home in Falls Church. ‘Living in a bubble,’ she said.
“But a few minutes later, she told me this: ‘My brother died about two weeks ago of the virus.’
“He was her younger brother, and lived a few states away.
“‘I’m the old oldest and he’s the youngest. And that’s outside the order of things.”‘
“My experience during the pandemic has been long days juggling kids and work. Worrying about money. Trying to schedule grocery deliveries.
“But for Margaret, the virus brings with it thoughts of mortality.”
Covid or No Covid, It’s Important to Plan | Now is an excellent time to assess your own situation and choose the best approach should the worst happen.” – The New York Times
New York Times article
“My phone rang with a FaceTime video, and my cousin’s face popped into view. We spent the first few minutes expressing our mutual disbelief and shock over Covid-19, acknowledging the insanity and underlying terror of these unprecedented circumstances. We joked about how our anxious mothers, with their endless reminders of dressing warm and staying indoors, had prepared us for this moment.
“Then my cousin stood up and closed the door to her room. ‘I want to talk to you about something more serious,’ she said. We both burst into laughter: What could be more serious than the end of the world?
“She took a deep breath and I watched her face crumple as she asked if, in the unlikely event that she and her husband both ended up extremely ill — or worse — I would be willing to drive the 300 miles to her house and get her young sons. Around the globe, Covid-19 has made people like my cousin realize their own mortality, bringing about difficult, but necessary, conversations regarding their end-of-life wishes.
“My cousin got her planning done in advance, but a friend of mine wasn’t so lucky.”
Click here to continue reading this New York Times article in its entirety.
mortality moments | “Death Cafe & Covid-19 • Never has there been such a need to talk about death and dying, and we are not able to meet each other face-to-face to do this, with as yet, no specified end.” The scenes and reports form the current global situation has intensified people’s focus on their own mortality. Join this local virtual Death Cafe at 10:00 this morning to talk about end-of-life thoughts that may be wandering around in your mind.
You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Apr 18, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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A surge | “Death cafes report surge of interest since Covid-19 outbreak” – The Guardian
“The Conversation Starter Kit is a useful tool to help you have the conversation with a family member, friend, or other loved one about your – or their – wishes regarding end-of-life care. It is available in several languages. All of the Starter Kits are available to download and print for free.
“Learn why it is important right now to revisit your own advance directives and those of your loved ones.”
“David Aguirre jumped in his truck and drove toward the hospital in the predawn darkness the minute he got the news: His 91-year-old mom was being rushed from her Texas assisted living facility to the emergency room.
Estela Aguirre would be one of five residents to die and six others to be sickened by the novel coronavirus at The Waterford at College Station, part of a financially strapped chain of assisted living sites called Capital Senior Living.
“So he missed seeing her draw her last breath.”
“’My mom was a sweet, kind person. People really felt like they’d known her for 100 years. She was just that kind of soul,’ said Aguirre, who lost his mother on March 28. ‘Some days, I’ll sit down and have my heart cry.’
“Assisted living complexes, home to more than 800,000 people nationwide, have quickly become a new and dangerous theater in the coronavirus war.”
Read this story in its entirety at Kaiser Health News, click here.