Good Books!

Good Books!

That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, by Sunita Puri

In one of those strange confluences of art and life, last week I began reading Dr. Sunita Puri’s, That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, four days before hearing that a friend had passed away after several months of declining health at age 95. This friend had been residing at a continuous care facility and, until last November, had been actively involved in her social circles, in adult education courses and was as informed (and appalled) at the current state of our political system as anyone. Her coterie of friends began to notice her absence after the new year and several attempts were made to see her, all of which were politely but firmly rebuked by her caretaker and her out-of-state daughter. The decision to honor her wishes for privacy during her demise was difficult, but the realization that doing so was ultimately the most unselfish thing her friends could do speaks to the central theme of Puri’s important book. Trained in the relatively new field of Palliative Care, Dr. Puri serves to help patients navigate the juxtaposition between ever-advancing medical technology and end of life care. She argues that the desire to have our terminal loved-ones survive should not be at the expense of a good quality of life, or what’s left of life. Often, in that frantic eleventh hour, panicked friends and family insist on drastic measures to slow the process of dying, unwittingly subjecting their loved ones to a prolonged period of both physical and emotional pain. One of the most important lessons my training as a veterinarian has taught me is that it truly is a gift to allow those (all those whom) we love to die with dignity. Pain management, respecting the wishes of the patient and allowing a dignified end are also the objectives of palliative care, a specialty which only recently has been emphasized as strongly as anatomy and physiology are in medical school. The writing is both straightforward and empathetic. Puri highlights poignant cases of patients and their families while gradually revealing her own life’s trajectory as the child growing up in a deeply spiritual immigrant family. That honest conversation about honoring the wishes of the individual at the end of life is one of the most difficult but important discussions we can have with our loved ones becomes clarion clear by books end. “...Puri shows us the ways that dying is woven into living and, as such, deserves not just acceptance but close attention, deep respect, even celebration. This is a lively and fascinating book that will be a crucial part of the expanding cultural conversation about how we think of death. Everyone alive should read it.” (Meghan Daum)

More Fashion Art. A Bag & Pouch Extravaganza from Janet Greenfield.

More Fashion Art. A Bag & Pouch Extravaganza from Janet Greenfield.

Emerging Writer.  Protest, by Susan Perretti.

Emerging Writer. Protest, by Susan Perretti.