End of Life: Quantity vs Quality


Richard Morgan, Morgan and DiSalvo.

I read a very interesting book by Katie Butler and there was an article in the Wall Street Journal that was written about that book called The Art Of Dying Well, A Practical Guide To A Good End Of Life. She made me think, when you’re having difficult health situations, the question becomes do you care more about the length of your life, how long you get to live versus the quality of your life? And no one can make the decision for you. Do you do all possible medical procedures and anything they possibly do to keep you alive, even if the quality isn’t so good? Or maybe you only want things that keep you alive if you still maintain quality of life. No one knows the answer but you, but it’s something to think about. You’re not powerless. You get to decide. And in the book and in the article, there were some very good quotes that I want to share with you.

“Advanced medicine is replete with treatments, ventilators, dialysis, defibrillators, feeding tubes, to name a few, that postpone death and prolonged misery without restoring health. Get clear long before that final panic call to 911 on what gives your life meaning and joy. When you can no longer enjoy those things, what medical treatments would you refuse? No one can answer this but yourself.”

Some of these things really keyed me off. “If you face a frightening diagnosis, ask your doctor to draw a sketch trekking how you might feel and function during your illness and its treatments.” A visual is much more important than telling you how much time you have. So it’s them telling you you have two years, wouldn’t you rather see how you’re going to feel? If you’re going to feel horrible off and on during this process, what’s it going to look like? And a visual can be very helpful.

They had an example with a woman who had a very aggressive form of cancer and she decided that she didn’t want to just do whatever was normal. She wanted to find out what her options were. She went to the doctor and she asked for a picture of what it would look like, her quality of life. And different scenarios had different meanings. She decided to have a Niagara Falls trajectory. She wanted to live as long as she could with a reasonable quality of life and then go off the cliff and be done with it. And that worked out for her quite well.

And I’ll end with this one. “You don’t have to be a passive victim. You retain moral agency. You keep shaping your life all the way to its end.”

Richard Morgan, Morgan and DiSalvo

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Request a Consultation

Scroll to Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.