The Ultimate End of Life Plan.
"...Torn, I called my mother's internist. 'I know your mother well enough, and I respect her,' he said. 'She doesn't want to risk a surgery that could leave her debilitated or bound for a nursing home. I think I would advise the same decision if it was my Mom.'
I called my mother and said, 'Are you sure? The surgeon said you could live to be 90.'
'I don't want to live to be 90,' she said.
'I'm going to miss you,' I said, weeping. 'You are not only my mother. You are my friend.'
That day I stopped pressuring my mother to live forever and began urging her doctors to do less rather than more. A generation of middle-aged sons and daughters are facing this dilemma, in an era when advanced medical technologies hold out the illusion that death can be perfectly controlled and timed."
posted by storybored
on Feb 3, 2014 -
On Thursday morning, Ohio executed
Dennis McGuire for the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart. However, due to an embargo on the common used lethal injection drug pentobarbital, the state used an untried combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative, for the execution. The procedure took 24 minutes
, during which McGuirse was reported to have been "choking and snorting" and was described as "horrific"
. [more inside]
posted by I am the Walrus
on Jan 17, 2014 -
What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested.
I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jan 10, 2014 -
"Danger in the Ring." According to Karen, a doctor in the emergency room asked her over the phone: “Was your daughter using birth control?” Karen said, “Yes, NuvaRing.” He removed the device and said, “I thought so, because she’s having a pulmonary embolism.” [more inside]
posted by blue suede stockings
on Dec 28, 2013 -
"After two to three hours, the body is transformed into a sterile coffee-colored liquid the consistency of motor oil that can be safely poured down the drain, alongside a dry bone residue similar in appearance to cremated remains."
GOOD magazine: The emergence of the sustainable death industry.
posted by The Whelk
on Dec 17, 2013 -
The public radio science program Radiolab
recently wrapped up a tour featuring their latest live show, Apocalyptical
. It is, as you might have guessed, about the end times. The show, hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and featuring live performances from comedians Kurt Braunohler and Reggie Watts and an appearance from dinosaur puppets, is now available for free on YouTube.
posted by inturnaround
on Dec 11, 2013 -
In 1986, Sandra Clarke was working as a staff nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, OR when a dying man asked her to sit with him. She agreed but first needed to make her rounds and the man died alone in his room before she was able to return. Troubled, and feeling that she had failed a patient, she resolved to gather volunteers to stay with those who were alone and close to death. Ms. Clarke enlisted her entire hospital for a bedside vigil system
to help ensure that patients would not be alone when they died. In 2001, Sacred Heart formalized the program as No One Dies Alone
(NODA) and over the last decade, it has spread to hospitals across the US. "Susan Cox Is No Longer Here"
offers us a glimpse into the NODA experience in Indianapolis. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 7, 2013 -
The victim of the first big mistake I ever made was a gentleman to whom I had never been properly introduced (and whose name I still do not know) but who was possessed of three singular qualities: he was alone in a room with me, he was without his trousers, and he was very, very dead
posted by Chrysostom
on Nov 26, 2013 -
I really don't have anything to add to this.
They piped him ashore. CMDCM Grgetich leaned in and quietly told me how significant that honor was and who it’s usually reserved for as we headed towards the gangplank. Hearing “Electrician’s Mate Second Class William Bud Cloud, Pearl Harbor Survivor, departing” announced over the 1MC was surreal.
posted by COD
on Nov 14, 2013 -
There are a few ways to end up on Hart Island. One third of its inhabitants are infants—some parents couldn’t afford a burial, others didn’t realize what a “city burial” meant when they checked it on the form. Many of the dead here were homeless, while others were simply unclaimed; if your body remains at the city morgue for more than two weeks, you, too, will be sent for burial by a team of prisoners on Hart Island
posted by anastasiav
on Nov 8, 2013 -
"For a period of time, while we believe it to be perfectly still, lifeless flesh responds, stirs and contorts in a final macabre ballet. Are these spasms merely erratic motions or do they echo the chaotic twists and turns of a past life?" [NSFW, SLV, Via]
posted by homunculus
on Nov 3, 2013 -
In the December 2004 issue of SPIN, we published Los Angeles journalist/musician Liam Gowing's detailed, empathetic look at the last years of Elliott Smith's life and the circumstances that led up to the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter's apparent suicide. "Mr. Misery" was difficult to read, a tremendous challenge to edit and fact-check, and one of the most remarkably intimate pieces in the magazine's history. On the 10th anniversary of Smith's death, it's now available for the first time on the site. [more inside]
posted by mannequito
on Oct 21, 2013 -
The Course of Their Lives.
While much in medicine has changed over the last century, the defining course of a first year medical student's education is still 'Gross Anatomy.' This is their hands-on tour of a donated cadaver -- an actual human body -- and is an experience which cannot be replicated by computer models. When Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson came up with the idea of following a med school gross anatomy class for a feature story, his editor challenged him to make it different. So he chose to intertwine the students' stories with that of Geraldine 'Nana' Fotsch, a living future donor, as sort of a stand-in for the cadaver. (Via
. This four-part series contains descriptions of a human dissection. Some may find it disturbing.
) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 19, 2013 -
"Maria Ridulph was 7 when she was kidnapped from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, on December 3, 1957. Her kidnapping and murder is the nation's oldest cold case to go to trial. It required family members to turn against one of their own and haunted a small town for 55 years. Even now, the case may not be over." CNN: Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Sep 2, 2013 -
Give The Anarchist A Cigarette: Counterculture legend Mick Farren dies with his boots on
Mick Farren, rabble rouser, musician, and writer, collapsed last night on stage at the The Borderline, in London. He died soon after.
Hmm, sorry, I seem to be crap at this. Here's some more links to the story:
Mick Farren 1943 - 2013
From Vintage Vinyl News: Passings: Mick Farren of the Deviants (1943 - 2013)
and from Ultimate Calssic Rock:
Mick Farren Dies After Collapsing On Stage In London
That last has a pretty good version of "Let's Loot The Super Market".
posted by evilDoug
on Jul 28, 2013 -
A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via
posted by zarq
on Jul 19, 2013 -
"After she passed, the chimps examined the body, inspecting Pansy’s mouth, pulling her arm and leaning their faces close to hers. Blossom sat by Pansy’s body through the night. And when she finally moved away to sleep in a different part of the enclosure, she did so fitfully, waking and repositioning herself dozens more times than was normal. For five days after Pansy’s death, none of the other chimps would sleep on the platform where she died."—
"Want to Understand Mortality? Look to the Chimps
", by Maggie Koerth-Baker
in the NYT [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan
on Jun 25, 2013 -
'Loss is difficult at any time of life. It can be particularly difficult for teenagers, who are still navigating their way, sometimes clumsily, toward adulthood. They know they need help, but are sometimes reluctant to ask for it. And often, because of their youth, their loss may be the first death they have ever known.'
For a year, a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer sat in on meetings of a grief group at Archbishop Moeller high school, for boys who had lost a parent... and learned The Rules of Grieving
posted by zarq
on Jun 15, 2013 -
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed
by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary
. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts
. His final letter.
posted by zarq
on Jun 13, 2013 -