Health Care Humanity

There Will Be Blood; Death Spiral

By Susan Imperial First posted in the “Turning a New Leaf” blog. In late summer of 2004 at the age of 75, my father Al was diagnosed with a blood disorder of idiopathic origins.  He had been feeling chronically tired for several months, and when the test results came back, they revealed that his red blood cell production was significantly below normal.  It wasn’t cancer, it really wasn’t anything “present.”  It was, starkly and simply, a near absence of function. In addition to the many questions and feelings that this news elicited, it dawned on me that my father’s Italian...

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How My Mom’s Death Changed My Mind About End-Of-Life Care

By Charles Ornstein   My father, sister and I sat in the near-empty Chinese restaurant, picking at our plates, unable to avoid the question that we’d gathered to discuss: When was it time to let Mom die? It had been a grueling day at the hospital, watching — praying — for any sign that my mother would emerge from her coma. Three days earlier she’d been admitted for nausea; she had a nasty cough and was having trouble keeping food down. But while a nurse tried to insert a nasogastric tube, her heart stopped. She required CPR for nine minutes. Even before I flew into town, a ventilator...

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A Failure to Rescue – Donna Bajone

A Failure to Rescue – Donna Bajone

Some families have a member who radiates such innate happiness and light that she illuminates the lives of everyone fortunate enough to live in her orbit. For my family, that person was my late sister Donna. Donna was born in 1968 with a congenital heart defect and spent the first two years of her life struggling with bouts of heart failure, pneumonia, and the inability to grow and thrive. Her only hope was open heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, a ventricular septal defect, and mitral valve insufficiency. We were fortunate to live near Stanford University, where prominent...

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A Missed Diagnosis

A Missed Diagnosis

My late father, Julius (Tony) Bajone, was a member of what we now refer to as “the greatest generation” – men and women willing to make extraordinary sacrifices, humble war heroes, and rebuilders of hope and security. There was no self-indulgent commiserating; only a unified vision of moving forward better and stronger. Each day was both a gift and an opportunity to improve the lives of the people you knew and loved, and those you would never meet. My father was the first member of our family to experience a serious medical error, but he would not be the last. My father was a carpenter and...

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