By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter
I once walked into the room of a dying patient to hear a game show blaring on television. The sound of the buzzer, slapped down by eager contestants, was jarring in this room from which a soul would soon depart. This program probably had been left on by someone — a nurse, a family member, one of the cleaning people — who had turned it on while in the room, focusing on some task and forgetting the patient in the bed. And now, although the room was empty of people, it was filled with a cacophony that jarred me, and, I presume, the dying patient in the bed.
As an ICU and palliative care physician, I am a frequent witness to death. And I am often struck by the broad range of experiences for dying patients. I recently visited the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, a beautifully painted Victorian House on a tree-lined street where many patients go to die. As I entered the house, I encountered the gentle aroma of banana bread, and followed my nose into the kitchen. (…) Read Full Article Here