Mr. Scott-Goforth, nicely written, thank you ("Sewing a Shroud," Nov. 6).
I shared the opinion to preserve life at all costs until I experienced my wife's passing, her struggle and my stress. There has to be a better way.
Jim Pell, Eureka
Thanks for the story about Dr. Fratkin's efforts to transform how we think about aging and another option for end of life care. I'm so glad to hear this is happening and want to recommend to readers interested in aging and end of life to read Atul Gawande's newly released book, Being Mortal. With captivating stories and sound analysis of our current framework for how we respond to aging and why it isn't working, Gawande helps his readers to see a better way. Our present approach to aging is from a medical rather than a quality of life perspective, where as we become more frail we lose any freedom to make our own choices. There are four questions Gawande found helpful to ask someone when their body/mind is breaking down: "What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes? What are your fears and what are your hopes? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make? And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?" Additionally, rather than asking, "What do you want when you are dying?" we need to ask, "If time becomes short, what is most important to you?" These questions and a shift in how we view the last decades of our lives can facilitate development of a model for responding that is based on the quality of our lives rather than prolonging life at any cost. I look forward to Fratkin's work and hope we can all step up to make this happen here in our community.
Pamela Brown, Arcata
Good article on palliative care and Dr. Michael Fratkin. My wife and I had the joy of being taught and guided by Dr. Fratkin during the last days and ultimate death of her father. His care and compassion are unmatched by any MD I have ever had contact with. Dr. Fratkin would often spend more than an hour at a time with us just talking and explaining how he was going to be able to help both us and her father reach the end. It was an incredible experience, one that Dr. Fratkin actually made relatively pain free by his expertise as a palliative care doctor and his strength and compassion as a man. Eureka and surrounding communities are blessed with the gift of this kind of care and this amazing doctor. I certainly support all of his efforts to increase palliative care in Humboldt County. It is sorely needed. Hopefully the rest of the Humboldt medical community will do the same. I have thanked Dr. Fratkin many times since his care of my father-in-law, and I will continue to do so whenever I can. Bless you Dr. Fratkin. You are a real hero in every sense of the word.
Stephen O. Miller, Eureka