Willpower as Medicine
The doctor’s goal in end-of-life care should be to facilitate the patient’s end-of-life goals.
For too long, we’ve phrased the question as one with only two answers: fight a losing battle, or quit.
If neither choice is right, maybe we can ask the patient to name some alternatives better suited to her own situation.
We have failed to recognize that dying people have priorities that they could communicate to us, besides just living longer, if we would only ask them.
What are you willing to sacrifice to make the most of your last days is the essential question.
For one patient of our acquaintance that meant trading length of life for richness of final days. Failing to meet her request would have been shameful.