Knocking on Heaven's Door

Knocking on Heaven's Door

The Path to A Better Way of Death

Book - 2013
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In this visionary memoir, based on a groundbreaking New York Times Magazine story, award-winning journalist Katy Butler ponders her parents' desires for "Good Deaths" and the forces within medicine that stood in the way.

Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came: a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence. Tragedy at first drew the family closer: her mother devoted herself to caregiving, and Butler joined the twenty-four million Americans helping shepherd parents through their final declines.

Then doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, keeping his heart going but doing nothing to prevent his six-year slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. When he told his exhausted wife, "I'm living too long," mother and daughter were forced to confront a series of wrenching moral questions. When does death stop being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When do you say to a doctor, "Let my loved one go?"

When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker, condemning her father to a prolonged and agonizing death, Butler set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother took another path. Faced with her own grave illness, she rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and met death head-on.

With a reporter's skill and a daughter's love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of medicine. Her provocative thesis is that modern medicine, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents.

This revolutionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that dying has become. And it chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a new movement trying to reclaim the "Good Deaths" our ancestors prized.

Knocking on Heaven's Door is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system. It will inspire the difficult conversations we need to have with loved ones as it illuminates the path to a better way of death.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2013
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781451641974
1451641974
Branch Call Number: 616.029 BUT NVD
Characteristics: 322 p. ; 22 cm

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g
gylemch
Feb 27, 2015

A must read for seniors, too, or
for anyone contemplating pace maker insertion. Living a long life is great as long as one is healthy and can maintain that life independently.

r
richibi
Jun 14, 2014

when specialists focus their cures on all the separate body parts, the heart, the lungs, the other essential organs, no one 's taking care of the soul, which is what the patient, and loved ones, would've wanted, and the consequences are devastating, this book is a plea for, rather than temporary cures, compassion

Jane60201 May 06, 2014

A very worthwhile book for anyone who is aging or with aging parents. As a medical social worker I knew all this stuff, but most people don't.

KCLSLibrarians Jan 15, 2014

This is a MUST read for anyone dealing with an aging parent. Butler provides very personal insights and often hard to hear truths about our current medical, ethical, and moral dilemmas as we face the question of ‘what to do about Dad?’ Useful, timely, and thought provoking, this book will help inform all of your end of life decisions, including and perhaps most importantly, your own. Also available on CD narrated by the author

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EmmaDagny
Dec 27, 2013

I wish this book was available for Kindle. Even the large print is too small.

b
bbb1771
Sep 29, 2013

Should be mandatory reading for anyone with a parent over the age of 70. Although told within the context of the US medical system (for profit, no universal care) the issues facing families as parents age are the same around the developed world.

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MaxineML Jan 08, 2014

On an autumn day in 2007, while I was visiting from California, my mother made a request I both dreaded and longed to fulfill.

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