“A Life Worth Living” – Radio Interview and Book

Sadly, the loved ones of five local support group members died in March; one support group member (caregiver) died too. At least one group member was involved in end-of-life treatment decisions, and relied on her husband’s written wishes when he was no longer able to communicate.

Along these lines, I heard a book author interviewed today (Thursday 4/2/09) on NPR’s “Fresh Air” program, and wanted to pass the info along to all of you. The book is “A Life Worth Living,” and the author is Robert Martensen, MD. Dr. Martensen was an ER and ICU MD for many years; he’s also a bioethicist.

In his book he talks about his father’s hospital death, and “argues that safeguarding the quality of a patient’s life sometimes trumps the urge to sustain life at all cost.” He also addresses his father’s death in the “Fresh Air” interview as well as his mother’s impending death. His mother lives in Santa Cruz. In the story about his mother, he describes one of his mother’s first MDs in these final weeks who wanted to place a pacemaker. Dr. Martensen worries that it’s only because he is an MD that he was able to know the right questions to ask the treating physician. Ultimately, he’s very fortunate that both of his parents had given such clear advance directives about what sort of treatment they wanted, given certain circumstances. He contrasts his mother with another elderly woman also suffering from dementia.

I would recommend listening to the 40-minute “Fresh Air” interview. You can find it online here:

The interview is titled “The Ethical Way To Heal American Health Care,” which doesn’t really capture the interview.