The third discussion of the yearlong initiative, “Embracing Life”, was led by Dr. David Fairbook. With a physician background, he led a discussion from this standpoint, discussing chapter 7 of Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal. The chapter focuses on hard conversations, mortality, and medical choices. Making plans and communicating them are vital to ensure that we get what we want at the end of life, especially when we are unable to speak for ourselves. Dr. Fairbrook discussed cases of patients and the differences between communication and medical choices. At the end, he presented residents with key questions to think about:
What do you really understand about your illness?
What are your biggest fears and concerns?
What goals and hopes do you wish for?
What trade-offs are you willing to undertake?
Although we desire full details from doctors and physicians and expect to have important life changes discussed with us, communicating our questions, wants, and fears to our doctors is just as important. We expect doctors to share this information, but we are just as responsible for asking those hard questions. It is important to make plans and discuss those plans with loved ones and relatives. We may face a day where we are unable to communicate what we want and have to leave it up to others to make those hard choices. Asking those hard questions and discussing those difficult topics with ensure that we get what we want at the end and are thoroughly prepared for the end of life.