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Knocking on Heaven's Door

The Path To A Better Way Of Death

By Katy Butler, 1949-

In this visionary memoir, based on a groundbreaking New York Times Magazine story, award-winning journalist Katy Butler ponders her parents’ desires for “Good Deaths” and the forces within medicine that stood in the way.

Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came: a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence. Tragedy at first drew the family closer: her mother devoted herself to caregiving, and Butler joined the twenty-four million Americans helping shepherd parents through their final declines.

Then doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, keeping his heart going but doing nothing to prevent his six-year slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. When he told his exhausted wife, “I’m living too long,” mother and daughter were forced to confront a series of wrenching moral questions. When does death stop being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When do you say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go?”

When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker, condemning her father to a prolonged and agonizing death, Butler set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother took another path. Faced with her own grave illness, she rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and met death head-on.

With a reporter’s skill and a daughter’s love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of medicine. Her provocative thesis is that modern medicine, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents.

This revolutionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that dying has become. And it chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a new movement trying to reclaim the “Good Deaths” our ancestors prized.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system. It will inspire the difficult conversations we need to have with loved ones as it illuminates the path to a better way of death.

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • 616.029 But, Nonfiction
1 available at Blythewood
  • 616.029 But, Nonfiction

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9781451641974


Format: Book
Author: Butler, Katy, 1949-
Summary: "A blend of memoir and investigation of the choices we face when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of modern medicine"-- Provided by publisher.
Title: Knocking on heaven's door : the path to a better way of death / Katy Butler.
Publisher Date: New York, NY : Scribner, 2013.
Subject: Terminal care Terminal care -- Decision making. Euthanasia -- Moral and ethical aspects Adult children of aging parents -- Family relationships BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs. MEDICAL / General. SELF-HELP / Death, Grief, Bereavement.
Isbn: 9781451641974 1451641974
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 2
System Items Total: 2
Call Number: 616.029 But
Oclc: 843955794
Upc:
Bib Id: 453313

Format: Book
Author: Butler, Katy, 1949-
Summary: "An exquisitely written, expertly reported memoir and expose; of modern medicine that leads the way to more humane, less invasive end-of-life care based on the author's acclaimed New York Times Magazine piece. This is the story of one daughter's struggle to allow her parents the peaceful, natural deaths they wanted and to investigate the larger forces in medicine that stood in the way. When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker that caused her eighty-four-year-old father's heart to outlive his brain, Katy Butler, an award-winning science writer, embarked on a quest to understand why modern medicine was depriving him of a humane, timely death. After his lingering death, Katy's mother, nearly broken by years of nonstop caregiving, defied her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and insisted on facing death the old-fashioned way: bravely, lucidly, and head on. Against this backdrop of familial love, wrenching moral choices, and redemption, Knocking on Heaven's Door celebrates the inventors of the 1950s who cobbled together lifesaving machines like the pacemaker and it exposes the tangled marriage of technology, medicine, and commerce that gave us a modern way of death: more painful, expensive, and prolonged than ever before. Caring for declining parents is a reality facing millions who may someday tell a doctor: "Let my parent go." A riveting exploration of the forgotten art of dying, Knocking on Heaven's Door empowers readers to create new rites of passage to the "Good Deaths" our ancestors so prized. Like Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death and How We Die by Sherwin Nuland, it is sure to cause controversy and open minds"-- Provided by publisher.
Summary: "A blend of memoir and investigation of the choices we face when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of modern medicine"-- Provided by publisher.
Title: Knocking on heaven's door : the path to a better way of death / Katy Butler.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
Publisher, Date: New York, NY : Scribner, 2013.
Description: 322 pages ; 23 cm
Subjects: Terminal care
Subjects: Terminal care -- Decision making.
Subjects: Euthanasia -- Moral and ethical aspects
Subjects: Adult children of aging parents -- Family relationships
Subjects: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs.
Subjects: MEDICAL / General.
Subjects: SELF-HELP / Death, Grief, Bereavement.
Contents: Pt. 1: The stroke. Along came a blackbird ; A year of grace ; Rites of passage -- Pt. 2: Fast medicine. The tyranny of hope ; Inventing lifesaving and transforming death ; My father's open heart -- Pt. 3: Ordeal. Not getting better ; Dharma sisters ; Broke-down palace ; White water -- Pt. 4: Rebellion. The sorcerer's apprentice ; The business of lifesaving ; Deactivation -- Pt. 5: Acceptance. The art of dying ; Afterward -- Pt. 6: Grace. Valerie makes up her mind ; Old plum tree bent and gnarled -- Pt. 7: Into the light. A better way of death ; A map through the labyrinth ; Notes for a new art of dying.
LCCN: 2013017659
ISBN: 9781451641974
ISBN: 1451641974
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 2
Total Copies: 2
Call Number: 616.029 But