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Knocking on Heaven's Door : Our Parents, Their Doctors and a Better Way of Death

ISBN: 9781451641974 | 1451641974
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Scribner
Pub. Date: 9/1/2013

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An exquisitely written, expertly reported memoir and exposť of modern medicine that leads the way to more humane, less invasive end-of-life carebased on the author's acclaimed New York Times Magazinepiece. This is the story of one daughter's struggle to allow her parents the peaceful, natural deaths they wantedand to investigate the larger forces in medicine and the human heart that stood in the way. When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker that caused her eighty-four-year-old father's heart to outlive his brain, Katy Butler, an award-winning science writer, embarked on a quest to understand why modern medicine was depriving him of a humane, timely death. After his lingering death, Katy's mother, nearly broken by years of nonstop caregiving, defied her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and insisted on facing death the old-fashioned way: bravely, lucidly, and head on. Against this backdrop of familial love, wrenching moral choices, and redemption, Knocking on Heaven's Doorcelebrates the inventors of the 1950s who cobbled together lifesaving machines like the pacemakerand it exposes the tangled marriage of technology, medicine, and commerce that gave us a modern way of death: more painful, expensive, and prolonged than ever before. Caring for declining parents is a reality facing millions who may someday tell a doctor: "Let my parent go." A riveting exploration of the forgotten art of dying, Knocking on Heaven's Doorempowers readers to create new rites of passage to the "Good Deaths" our ancestors so prized. Like Mitford's The American Way of Deathand How We Dieby Sherwin Nuland, it is sure to cause controversy and open minds.

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