A few weeks ago, I read an article regarding Doctor Angelo Volandes's book, The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of Life Care and I bumped it to the top of my TBR pile.
PLOT - In his non-fiction book, Volandes explains how years of working with terminally ill patients, plus personal experience with his own father, have made him realize the need for patients to create an end-of-life plan for themselves, while they are still healthy and competent to make their wishes known. Volandes noticed that this was a topic that everyone, including doctors, want to avoid, creating issues where patients do not understand their options or their wishes are ignored. As part of his efforts to communicate this issue, Volandes spent years creating a video to show patients their options for end-of-life care. In The Conversation, Volandes recounts the experiences with a variety of patients and their families, which led him to push people to open the dialogue.
LIKE - The Conversation is an important book and although it's not an easy topic, everyone should discuss their end-of-life wishes with family, friends and doctors. In recent years, I've been in charge of the medical decisions for both my mom and aunt as they were dying. This was so, so tough and honestly, even though I knew their wishes on paper, we never had a real conversation about it. I had to make some decisions, without knowing what their exact wishes would have been. Having that important conversation was just too difficult to have.
What I liked most about The Conversation, is that Volandes never pushes one idea. He recognizes that end-of-life decisions are different for everyone and that it can be based on a number of issues, like family, culture, religion, and even a patients own fears. One patient was a young mother dying of advanced cancer and she wanted the doctors to do everything possible to keep her alive, so that she might make it to one more Easter with her family. Other patients would rather have pain management, than aggressive treatment, picking a potentially shorter life with better quality, over the need to be kept alive at all costs. The main message of the book was a greater need to understand the options and for patients to have the power to choose the best option for them.
The title of the book includes the words "revolutionary plan"...this is a bit tongue and cheek, as the revolutionary aspect of it, is simply the shift in perspective, getting people to open the dialogue. There is nothing that changes having to die or the types of options that we have at the end, it is a revolution in the way that we communicate.
DISLIKE - The book was very short. The personal stories of the patients were so interesting, that Volandes could have included more. In an effort to drive home his important message, there was repetitiveness in the book, especially with the appendix section, which is filled with tips on how to have the conversation. This information was more than clear throughout the book and it was repetitious at the end. However, I can forgive the repetition, as the message is so important.
RECOMMEND - Yes! Everyone needs to read this book and have those conversations. My own life was plagued with doubt and stress, after family members died and I was left feeling like I may have not followed their wishes. I wish that I could go back in time and have that discussion with them, get clarity. Even if you don't want to read this book, check out Volandes' website and watch his video. Take control of your health and care desires.