"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
Ronna L. Edelstein
For years, and especially as he entered his nineties, my father kept begging me not to "dump" him into a nursing home. He had seen too many of his cronies abandoned in this way by family members; his visits with these friends left him feeling depressed and hopeless for days. I assured Dad that I'd never put him in a facility.
It was an easy promise to make. I didn't want him in a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest setting with a Nurse Ratched supervising his care. I didn't want him waking up at night disoriented and lonely. Because he was inching closer to death, the greatest unknown, I didn't want a facility, with all of its unknowns, to replace his familiar apartment, which I'd been sharing with him for more than a decade.
But in spring of last year, six weeks after Dad turned ninety-eight, I broke my promise.
E. Wesley Ely
The first time I saw Jessa, she lay crumpled in the ICU bed, paralyzed, expressionless and unable to speak. A military veteran, she had fought in Desert Storm, but she now was facing a deadlier and more inexorable foe: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig's disease.
This disease causes progressive loss of muscle control, and Jessa was unable to speak, eat or breathe on her own. Her only means of communicating was through small facial movements--opening and closing her eyes or mouth, raising her eyebrows.
A dozen people made up her ICU team: three interns, three residents, a pharmacist, a nurse, a respiratory therapist, a social worker, a hospital chaplain and myself--the lead physician, or intensivist.
The doctor covers my mother's hand
with his own hand. Her hand is
a speckled egg he is keeping warm.
The nursing assistant reaches out
to touch the yellow roses,
and murmurs, "Bonito."
Several people come in and speak
cheerily to the bedcovers and the curtains,
but not to my mother,
who no longer makes eye contact.
a treasury of compelling stories and poems.
Includes The Resilient Heart , Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma and Confessions of a Seventy-Five-Year-Old Drug Addict. Foreword by Maureen Bisognano, President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
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