Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Knocking on Heaven's Door - Katy Butler

The front cover of this book makes it seem like it will be grim reading, and after reading it I guess you can say it is not an easy read - especially if you have ageing parents.  Katy Butler lives a fair distance away from her parents, and her expectation is that they will have a gentle retirement and then some vague illness and die.  When her father suffers a stroke though, she finds that she is needed to help her mother with him as he returns home.  When his heart fails, a pacemaker is inserted to stabilise his heartbeats prior to a surgery.  As the years go by, her father also begins to suffer from dementia, sliding into becoming more frail and dependant on his wife and caregivers for daily help.

Less than a year after her fathers death, her mother then becomes ill and after the experience with her husband and his medical issues, Katys mother makes some different medical choices, with the end of her life not extended by surgical intervention.

In this memoir, Katy talks not only about her own family experience, but about the moral issues surrounding doing everything possible vs gentle waiting and a slow medicine approach to caring for our elderly relatives.  Working in a hospital I find myself asking the same questions, when I see elderly people who are subjected to vigorous surgery and treatments, ones which seem to only be prolonging the suffering and their dying.  For myself, I think I would much prefer a quality of my life rather than the quantity.

5/5 - As I will be thinking about this book for some time to come and think that it will certainly be worth a reread in a few decades, when I am sure not much would have changed in the care of elderly patients.

1 comment:

Karen and Gerard said...

Sounds like a heavy depressing read, but certainly is a topic that everyone deals with in one way or another. Certainly it sounds like a thought provoking book!