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How Long?

Recently I discovered the thoughts of Katy Butler, author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. There is a New York Times review of her book by Abraham Verghese, professor and senior ­associate chairman for the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University, who is the author of the novel “Cutting for Stone.”

The book ponders the NeverNeverland of a not uncommon medical nightmare that kept her mother on sustained and exhausting caretaking duty in her late 70’s while her husband’s overall health declined as his pacemaker-assisted heart kept him alive. The situation was compounded by a medical system that fails to fully apprise patients of the full consequence of specific medical interventions. The irony of the disputed decision to give her husband a pacemaker tragically resulted in no Medicare diagnosis of a terminal illness and thus no relief for the family with a Medicare-supported hospice team.