Read my Book

An Ordinary Death by Christy ThomasAt this link, and this link, you’ll find my book, An Ordinary Death.  When my mother was dying in 2010, I blogged extensively about what we went through as children and caregivers as we faced the death process that has become increasingly common in the US.

We faced mounting medical bills and more treatment being prescribed for a woman who had no hope of meaningful life left.  We brought her home under Hospice care and then discovered the massive holes in the Hospice system and the craziness of a Medicare reimbursement policy that would happily pay for fruitless procedures but does nothing to cover the actual costs of helping people die gently.

I think most just want an ordinary death, and it will be denied to nearly everyone.  This book, both one women’s story and the larger story of millions of others, asks, “How Shall We Then Die?”

There is also a free study guide available to help us each walk through those important end of life issues:  ordinary death study guide

Here is an excellent summary and review of the book.

7 thoughts on “Read my Book

  1. I need to read your book, Christy. I lost both of my parents last year to fairly sudden, un-prolonged deaths. But both of my grandparents suffered with dementia and Alzheimer’s for extended periods, not knowing who we were or, more than likely, who they were. I’m 55 now and can see my own demise on the horizon. I don’t want to be a medical or financial burden to my children. I want to die with some sense of dignity and cognitive ability. It is interesting that a country that guarantees us the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” won’t allow us to willingly surrender that life if we deem it no longer to have quality to it. I wish we knew how to change this.

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    1. That is the very same question I ask, Bill. I would very much appreciate it if you would read the book and then give me some feedback on it. It is time for me to try to leverage that work into bigger conversations about the whole issue of our dying process.

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  2. As a hospice social worker, I see this situation all the time. I cannot help but feel that at some point, Medicare will need to address it. Very few families are in positions to provide all the care a loved one in end stages of a disease needs. As we live longer, caregivers are now older and often have health issues of their own; children, if they still,live in the area, are all working full time and many have children of their own to care for. Nursing homes are not the answer, and most folks don’t have $20/hr to pay for sitter/caregiver services. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that we need to do something. You are right that Medicare will continue to pay for useless procedures, but allow nothing for day to day care. Unfortunately, regardless of how good the hospice is, we all are subject to the same Medicare criteria, and most families are caught completely off guard.

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  3. I spent the last ten days of my mother’s life sitting beside her, holding her hand. She could not speak due to several strokes. She could no longer write notes, and appeared to be asleep all of that time. Yet I felt that she knew I was there. Her death was as inspirational as her life. She lived her faith, and she died in faith, as awesome an experience as I have ever had. It is hard to be born, and it is hard to die. My mother showed me how to die, just as she showed me how to live…by her example. I called on Hospice toward the end, so mother could be as comfortable as possible. I cannot praise the Hospice people enough to do them justice. They were wonderfully compassionate and loving, from the nurses to the young chaplain who sang hymns to mother in a beautiful, soft voice. As hard as the experience was, I am grateful to have been there.

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  4. Exactly. We do. That is why we did all we could to extricate our mother from the medicalized way of dying and bring her to her home and peace. It was the best gift we could have given her–but it also took a huge toll on my brother, sister and I, especially when we learned that Medicare would have happily paid for hospitalizations and fruitless procedures, but would not help with badly needed home health care. Hospice can only send people out two to three hours a week until the very end is near. Quite a learning experience for us.

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  5. When my mother was dying of untreatable and fast-moving lung cancer, during that last week when she was in a coma, I kept thinking, “We treat our pets better than this”.

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