One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die
January 7, 2017 3:52 PM   Subscribe

"How B.J. Miller, a doctor and triple amputee, used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care at a small, quirky hospice in San Francisco."[NYTimes] Once an outlier, Zen Hospice has come to embody a growing nationwide effort to reclaim the end of life as a human experience instead of primarily a medical one. The goal, as Miller likes to put it, is to “de-pathologize death.”

The story profiled in the link is truly as much about BJ Miller and as it is about Randy Sloan, the man who built him a custom-fitted motorcycle and later became his patient.
posted by sevenofspades (11 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
related *brilliant* episode of the standout podcast "this is actually happening": what if you witnessed a thousand deaths?
posted by j_curiouser at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

I read this article a bit earlier; it's a fascinating piece on so many levels. I can't say enough about the palliative care people I have dealt with at different times, and Dr. Miller is a wonderful representative of the field, as are the nurses and people of Zen House.

Letting a patient know that they are dying is never easy, but I was impressed with the way the medical people worked with Mr. Sloan and his family. They really tried to make the process as easy as possible to remove strain from Mr. Sloan and his family. They definitely seemed to care a great deal.

Thank you, sevenofspades. I think this is a valuable and, ultimately, an uplifting article. I'm glad to see it here.
posted by Silverstone at 4:31 PM on January 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

The custom made motorcycle reminds me of Gibson's Peripheral.
posted by nofundy at 5:04 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I almost posted this when I saw this link in my FB feed a couple days ago. As I commented there, this is the longest piece I've read online in ages, and well worth the read. It is so heartbreaking (and honestly, terrifying) that the retirement industrial complex is about profiting off death first, and comfort or dignity for patients a far distant second.
posted by Glinn at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

(Also, in that first photo he looks EXACTLY like someone. Maybe Nicholas Turturro?)
posted by Glinn at 5:22 PM on January 7, 2017

good post.
posted by shockingbluamp at 5:23 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of the most depressing things I have ever seen was a hospice located in a commercial industrial park, completely windowless. I can't imagine a deathbed without a window, even if it's just for family.
posted by Beholder at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh man, this was a hard thing to read, but seriously so moving. May we all never need the kind of care he provides, but may we all have it available to us if we do.
posted by primalux at 6:02 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

That was really well written. I liked how it delved into the complicated under-sides of what could have been a very pat "And he was so enlightened!!" feel-good story.
posted by bleep at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

That headline bugs me soooo much. Zen Hospice Project was doing exactly the same thing for a few decades before his arrival. I know because I was a guesthouse volunteer.
posted by janey47 at 6:38 PM on January 7, 2017 [7 favorites]

Very much enjoyed this article. I found myself wondering how the other residents and guests of the hospice felt about the added noise and activity that came with this youthful group of visitors. It's easy to imagine some old folks happy to "have some life around the place," but what if 85-year-old Mrs. Smith in the next room over wanted nothing more than some peace and quiet at the end? How would that get resolved? Trying not to offend anyone is how we get the bland, impersonal hospital and nursing home rooms that exist most other places, so I'm not advocating that we should dull everything down. I just think it's interesting to think about, because a house like this is a microcosm for the larger world issue of how we get along when equally deserving people have incompatible needs and desires. I wonder how they manage it.
posted by vytae at 5:30 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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