Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death

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Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death

Format:  Hardcover,

322 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publish Date: Sep 2013

ISBN-13: 9781451641974

ISBN-10: 1451641974

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
In this visionary memoir, based on a groundbreaking "New York Times Magazine" story, award-winning journalist Katy Butler ponders her parents' desires for "Good Deaths" and the forces within medicine that stood in the way.
Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came: a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence. Tragedy at first drew the family closer: her mother devoted herself to caregiving, and Butler joined the twenty-four million Americans helping shepherd parents through their final declines.
Then doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, keeping his heart going but doing nothing to prevent his six-year slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. When he told his exhausted wife, "I'm living too long," mother and daughter were forced to confront a series of wrenching moral questions. When does death stop being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When do you say to a doctor, "Let my loved one go?"
When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker, condemning her father to a prolonged and agonizing death, Butler set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother took another path. Faced with her own grave illness, she rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and met death head-on.
With a reporter's skill and a daughter's love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of medicine. Her provocative thesis is that modern medicine, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents.
This revolutionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that dying has become. And it chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a new movement trying to reclaim the "Good Deaths" our ancestors prized.
"Knocking on Heaven's Door" is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system. It will inspire the difficult conversations we need to have with loved ones as it illuminates the path to a better way of death.

Specifications

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: Sep 2013
ISBN-13: 9781451641974
ISBN-10: 1451641974
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 322
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.1
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.0 x 8.0 x 1.25

Book description

Like so many of us, award-winning writer Katy Butler always assumed her aging parents would experience healthy, active retire­ments before dying peacefully at home. Then her father suffered a stroke that left him incapable of easily finishing a sentence or showering without assistance. Her mother was thrust into full-time caregiving, and Katy became one of the 24 mil­lion Americans who help care for aging parents. In an effort to correct a minor and non-life threatening heart arrhythmia, doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker. The device kept his heart beating but did nothing to prevent his slide into dementia, incontinence, near-muteness, and misery. After several years, he asked his wife for help, telling her, "I am living too long".

Mother and daughter faced a series of wrench­ing moral questions: When does death cease being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving life and prolonging a dying? When is the right time to say to a doctor, "Let my loved one go"?

When doctors refused to disable the pace­maker, sentencing her father to a protracted and agonizing death, Katy set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother faced her own illness, rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and instead met death head-on. Knocking on Heaven's Door, a revolution­ary blend of memoir and investigative reporting, is the fruit of the Butler family's journey.

With a reporter's skill, a poet's eye, and a daughter's love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the tech­nological imperatives of modern medicine. Her provocative thesis is that advanced medicine, in its single-minded pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents. Butler lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that modern dying has become and chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine--a growing movement that promotes care over cure.

Knocking on Heaven's Door is a visionary map through the labyrinth of a broken and morally adrift medical system. It will inspire the necessary and difficult conversations we all need to have with loved ones as it illuminates a path to a better way of death.

Customer Product Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5★ by 1reviewer.
Rated 5 out of 5★ by Best book - everyone should read. This book is a MUST read for anyone with an interest in modern health care. It gives history of how we got where we're at today. It offers background on how decisions are made current day that are not always in the best interest of the patient or even the patent's wishes. Author adds personal story about care of her parents. 01/19/2014
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