A forthright memoir on illness and investigation of how to improve end-of-life scenarios.
"Every day across the country, family caregivers find themselves pondering a medical procedure that may save the life—or prevent the dying—of someone beloved and grown frail," writes journalist Butler. But when is it time to stop intervening and let nature take its course? Should medical procedures be performed to save a life regardless of the monetary costs and the toll it takes on an entire family? These are the questions Butler examines in this honest, moving memoir, as she details the last several years of her father's life after he suffered a severe stroke. The once-vibrant, sometimes-caustic man she knew from her childhood was no longer fully there, and a pacemaker was installed prior to a hernia operation to help ward off complications from this procedure. However, the device didn't prevent a slow, steady decline of body and mind, and Butler describes the often agonizing physical and emotional toll this disintegration took on her father, her mother (who was the primary caregiver) and herself. Her mother gave up having a life of her own as she tended to her husband, who more resembled an adult-sized infant than the husband she had known and loved for more than 40 years. Ultimately, the placement of the pacemaker prolonged a life that possibly should have ended many years before, and it is this decision that Butler struggles with throughout the book. When her mother grew ill, she refused treatments and "died like a warrior. Her dying was painful, messy, and imperfect, but that is the uncontrollable nature of dying." With candidness and reverence, Butler examines one of the most challenging questions a child may face: how to let a parent die with dignity and integrity when the body has stopped functioning.
Honest and compassionate thoughts on helping the elderly through the process of dying.