‘Too frequently, we leave it too late to start to think — but a crisis is never the best time for careful thought.’
As Australia's population ages, many individuals are faced with making complex medical decisions, for themselves and for others, in times of great stress. How far should doctors go when trying to prolong life? How can we decide what is ‘too far’ and ‘not far enough’ for our loved ones unless we know what their wishes are?
Letting Go is an important and timely introduction to, and discussion of, the kinds of decisions that individuals, families, and medical personnel face in a medical crisis. It shows us how to start thinking about our end-of-life stage before we get there; how to make an advance care plan that will help people make decisions on our behalf; and how we can maintain our dignity and autonomy for as long as possible.
Drawing on many years of experience as an intensive-care specialist, and writing with great insight and compassion, Dr Corke shows us all the ways in which people can make a mess of dying — and, more importantly, in doing so, he teaches us how we can do it better.
‘In crisp, clear prose Corke confronts the reader with the scenario most of us in Western society are likely to face after a period of declining health and function: ambulance, hospital, unconsciousness, no plan in place, family disagreements about treatment, escalation of medical intervention, and finally, our last days spent ‘‘connected to machines, cared for by strangers, and separated from family’’ … As a manual for how to avoid ending up in the ICU, in what one of Corke’s patients called ‘‘the bad bit at the end’’, Letting Go is a guide book for our age.’
Gail Bell, The Saturday Age