Being Mortal – by Atul Gawande

Medicine and What Matters in the End

A book that will make you think long and hard about the choices we make for ourselves and the dying.  Reminds us that no matter everything that modern medicine can do to heal the wounded eventually Death and Taxes catch up with everyone 😉 the great Equalizer…

Though there isn’t a lot of advice about Taxes in the book there’s plenty about Death. The book reminds me of a snippet I heard somewhere.

A Tourist from the west visits a famous Indian Yogi.

He was surprised to see that the yogi’s home was a simple room filled with books.  Only furniture was a mat and a lantern.

Surprised he asks the Yogi ” Yogi ji, Where is your furniture ?”

” Where is yours ? ” replied the Yogi.

“Mine? But I’m only a visitor here”

“So, am I” said the Yogi …!!

and So are “WE, temporary visitors” The Book is about when the visit nears to it’s end, how do we want it to end ? the book is about those choices and the decisions that need to happen beforehand so we have a befitting ending to our visit here.

I am a fan of his previous book the “Checklist Manifesto” Which is a thesis on the fallibility of the human mind.  Atul Gawande is a surgeon and from a family of successful doctors, this book is about the limits of medicine in its ability to keep us alive and well.

Think of it like a Book of Questions on Death and Dying.

  •  Would you prefer to vegitate and die after being in a coma for 2 months and die a slow death where your organs fail one by one or would you prefer an instant deathearly and painless, or atleast with momentary pain.
  • Would you prefer to spend your last weeks or months in a hospital ICU where the doctors try and fight Yama the Hindu God of Death to extract the last breath out of your body or would you prefer to spend your last days with friends and family just doing the things you care about ?
  • What is more important to you, Independence and doing everything as you like or losing Total control of body and functions to nurses and caretakers

Death is such a difficult topic to broach in coversations, especially with close family, it’s almost as though even the thought or conversation about death is certain to bring bad omen.  This book makes those conversations easy.  It arms you with the thought and the things to consider while making difficult choices concerning last days and death.  It also deals with extensively with the aged and the age care and modern medicine’s inability to care for them.

I for one know I’ll live after death.  I have discovered the secret to living beyond my lifespan.  I have made my choices you can too.  I have elected to Donate all my organs upon death.

While there are a whole bunch of other choices to make, this one choice is clear for me. I’d strongly encourage you to make it too.