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How Doctors Die

Posts: 271
Joined: Nov 2011

I saw this on another forum and it comforted me! We need to be informed and inform our families on what we want and don't want.



It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

Ken Murray, MD, is Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at USC. This post was originally published at Zócalo Public Square, a non-profit ideas exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

His heart was dying, and him along with it.  As things progressed over the years, he just adjusted to what he could do, and went on.  

At this last crisis, he said "I have experienced many things in my life, and it has been rich with friends and loved ones.  I still have things I would like to do, but, if this is the end, so be it".

We are grateful to the young man who lost his life, but gave new life to my beau....he vows to live his life honoring this selfless gift from a grieving family.


Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 1282
Joined: Apr 2012

Thanks Patch, more people need to be aware of this. Having a wife in Hospice, I'm very cognizant, watching her die from Alzheimers.

joemetz's picture
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

I just read the entire article... twice.

I've watched a few family members go through the "end of life" and this article provides much room for thought and discussion.


thanks for sharing.

At some point, we all should read and re-read this!


thanks again.



Posts: 506
Joined: Apr 2013

I found this article a little disturbing.  If doctors recommend so much treatment for us, but treat themselves differently, what does that say?  How often have we asked doctors "What would you do?" and I have never heard one say "Go home and die".  Of course, I have never (yet anyway) been in a dire situation where that answer would be given.

I mistakenly always though the Hippocratic Oath mentioned "First, do no harm" but that is not part of the oath (I just looked it up).

5 years ago my then 7 year old grandson's heart stopped.  His mother (my daughter, a nurse) performed CPR until ALS shocked him 3 times.  She knew the outcome of most people whose hearts stop and get CPR.  Our now healthy 12 year old grandson is alive with no brain damage thanks to CPR.  I don't think anyone would deny lifesaving efforts for a child.  Maybe this article was geared only toward fatal illness.

I think it is good to read this article, we all hope our physicians are kind and caring toward us in our time of need as they would be toward themselves or their family members.

Maxiecat's picture
Posts: 544
Joined: Jul 2012

Thank you for sharing this.  My mother in law and I have talked at length about the process of dying...she is stage 4 Ovarian cancer...now fighting a reoccurrence.  She had said before, that she would not do another round of chemo...but now faced with this reoccurrence ... She has decided to try one more time....this time she has said that if this does not work then this must be her time.  She is at peace with this... Same attitude... She has done many things in her life, there are still things that she wants to experience....but if it is her time to die then it is her time.   I am still living with the uncertainty...I have a young family...and they are my motivation for moving through treatment right now.  I will I get to that point when I say to my family that I am ready to stop fighting... Only time will tell...I guess many of us will face that At some point in this journey...hopefully, many years down the road.


a good friend said this  to me one day...(Not sure i got the quote exactly right... but this is what i remember).... "I don't have cancer, I don't have any diseases that I know of....but I am still terminal... We are all terminal.  We will all die someday.  It is not about the process of dying...it is about the living that you do."


KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

All of us are dying, just some of us are driving Lambo's and some, tricycles....slowly or quickly...we all end up the same...


My point?  Live well, laugh often, love passionately!


Hugs, Kathi

MaryCarol5's picture
Posts: 102
Joined: May 2013

I hope that is my primary transportation.  Love it!

fatbob2010's picture
Posts: 467
Joined: May 2012

The difference between what a doctor can do for themself's, and, what Western Society expect's from them, are two different things.  We are a litigious society afterall.  

Ultimately we are the master's of our fate.  Choosing how much insult our body is subjected too.  There is an argument to be presented that infers our own distress/fear drives a need to seek out  and continue treatment beyond that which is reasonably expected to be helpful. 

There are a number of versions of the Hippocratic Oath.  Even though they all do not use the words "do no harm." Each seems to mention that the practitioner is in a position of trust; acting in the best interest of the patient.  Harming a patient would not be in the patient's best interest.  Further, it would be a violation of trust and therfore, also violation.

Not a happy conversation for some...but worth having for many.


Lorikat's picture
Posts: 682
Joined: Jul 2011

Wow.  Thank you for sharing this.  


Much food for thought.


lp1964's picture
Posts: 1240
Joined: Jun 2013

Even though interesting article, there is lot more to it.

Hippocratic oath: "Do no harm..." Hippocrates lived 4 thousand years ago and the doctors then didn't have many options to heal or hurt patients. Today there is endless number of medications, surgical techniques and technologies to heal and hurt patients with and and doctors have a tough often conflicting choices to make of  what and which way to use these. The type of personalities that become doctors and nurses are very caring people and during their career ideally they become even more like that and with all the tools they have, they want to do everything to "make us feel better."

Quality vs. quantity of life: without abundant food supply extreme hygiene and technology humans are programmed to live for about 40 years. In modern countries amazingly we doubled that. However, do we live more fulfilling lives now? We made our world so complicated that it takes 20 years of schooling to prepare our kids for life. Most of us work way too much to eat the same 3 meals a day and sleep in 1 bed like the poorest person in the world. Well maybe you have 2 weeks of vacation time to reward yourself for all the sacrifice during your 50 week work year.

Doctors choose less treatment: I'm a dentist and I recommend every patients teeth cleaning every 6 months. At the same time I haven't had my teeth cleaned in 4 years. I see many of my colleagues and coworkers with really bad teeth. Do we choose less treatment? No we are stupid and neglect ourselves, too busy caring for our patients. At the same time if I needed a root canal or 10 dental implants would I get that? Hell yeah.

CPR: well I agree, don't keep a terminally ill patient alive by any means, but if some one is chocking on a piece of stake, do the damn Heimlich.

So this issue is very complicated and I believe, just like in anything the truth is in the middle. If you love your live and the things and people in it, do everything to stay alive. However if you are bitter, hate the world or your illness gets you to a point that you can't enjoy life anymore then let go. Trust yourself to know when it's the time.


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