How my grandfather died

His surgeons and ICU doctors his last hospital visit were really excellent. Like so many older people though, the medical system's attention came on him only when it was so late, and only for surgeries and procedures - not for helping him live better naturally

On a pretty fall morning, my grandpa fell and broke his neck. When the ambulance got him to the ER where I saw him, he was awake, lucid, and pleasant. He didn’t complain of pain. His spinal cord was so precariously snagged up against his misaligned bones that he wasn’t allowed to sit up.

He didn’t want major surgery. The ICU doctors attending to him looked at how frail he was and agreed. He died peacefully, the same way he lived, a few days later.

I think about his decline at the end of his life a lot. I think about the meds he was on and how for the last several months of his life he felt his stomach was always upset, and wonder how much better his appetite would have been off a few more prescriptions.

I think about the tens of thousands of dollars outlayed when people fall and go to the hospital, but the total lack of insurance coverage to help people when they are stuck in a rut with their health.

We know so much now about nutrition, movement, sleep, motivation, rehab, fall prevention, social support. We know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And we can usually sense when the conventional medical system is just kicking the can. But most of us just follow along until it’s too late.

My grandfather’s death taught me lessons about how not to settle. There is a growing community of doctors, coaches, and health professionals who see our system’s complicity in attending to sickness but not promoting life.

I’m going to post over the next couple of days on how you can focus on quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.

Image credit: Amelie Benoist / Science Source

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