Community Magazine

Knocking on Heaven's Door: Book Review

By Thegenaboveme @TheGenAboveMe

Knocking on Heaven's Door: Book Review

Published September 10, 2013.

Journalist Katy Butler supported her aging parents through two very different trajectories in their final years.
She describes their final years in her 2013 book Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.
Her father, Jeffrey, experienced a stroke and then a series of medical problems that deteriorated his quality of life. Most notably, he had cognitive problems due to vascular dementia.
However, the bulk of Butler's book addresses the decision to give her father a pacemaker so that he could withstand an operation to repair a hernia.
In the years that followed, Butler and her mother, Valerie, regretted that decision. When his memory failed, his personality changed, and his mobility faltered, they tried to have Jeffrey's pacemaker switched off. However, the ethics of that decision was questioned repeatedly.
After watching Jeffrey's life prolonged well past a quality of life acceptable to him and his loved ones, Valerie chose to reject medical interventions when she started experiencing serious heart problems just a couple of years after the death of her husband.
Instead, Valerie chose palliative care and died without having to spend her last months or years in and out of hospitals and under the care of family or paid caregivers.
Butler provides a lot of details about her parents' marriage and her father's care while sharing her thoughts about the "default setting" of the medial community to prolong life without taking into consideration the quality of the life that remains.
The book may offer insights about people living with any number of chronic or terminal diseases, but there is wealth of detail about the heart, heart surgeries, and pacemakers in particular.  At times, the attention to pacemakers borders on an obsession.
Death and disease are difficult life challenges. In the wake of such troubles, it's natural to search for an easier path, a better outcome. But it's difficult to know if Jeffrey would have died "A Good Death" under a different set of circumstances.
Given her strivings against the realities of her father's health problems, I would be tempted to prescribe some readings in Buddhism to Butler. However, she is an ordained Buddhist nun.  She includes several passages where she turns to Buddhism to address her dis-ease with her father's failing health.
Yes, Butler may have struggled to accept her father's decline, but the result of her obsession is a book rich with detail for the readers' consideration.

Related:
Books on the Dying Process

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Skinny Creamy Italian Vanilla Gelato / Fior Di Latte Gelato - Made with Minimal...

    Skinny Creamy Italian Vanilla Gelato Fior Latte Made with Minimal Sugar Cream

    version; Today, I will be sharing a fantastic gelato recipe!Is gelato the same as ice cream?Although gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, both are... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Zoebakeforhappykids
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • How To Make Your Boyfriend Give You Money Without Asking Him

    Money has always been a sensitive issue in a relationship. Women like it when their boyfriend pays for dinner, movie ticket, and other dating expenses. Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Naijapary
    SOCIETY, A-CLASSER
  • Discover the Nature and Beauty of the High Mountain Environments in the Valle...

    Discover Nature Beauty High Mountain Environments Valle d'Aosta.

    Aosta Valley is the smallest region in Italy; in its northwest, it is located between France and Switzerland. At its core are its majestic peaks (the region... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Hugor
    DESTINATIONS
  • The Autumn 100 - My Ultra Comeback

    I thought I made pretty good time getting to the turnaround point. Now I was pleased it was downhill all the way to Goring, except there still seemed to be load... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Jamesrichardadams
    FITNESS, OTHER SPORTS, SPORTS
  • When You Should Come In To Net

    When Should Come

    One of the main goals in doubles tennis is to take the net, as it decreases the likelihood of hitting the ball into the net and gives you better angles to put... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Jen Campbell
  • …Root, Root, Root

    …Root, Root, Root

    As the end of October comes into view so too does the beginning of the 2018 World Series. This year sees the Boston Red Sox take on the LA Dodgers in a battle o... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Zer
    SELF EXPRESSION
  • Loneliness Limited

    Loneliness Limited

    Is anyone here a fan of the writings of the American author Kurt Vonnegut? He was quite fashionable in the 1960s and early 1970s but I think his cachet is not... Read more

    The 21 October 2018 by   Ashleylister
    BOOKS, CREATIVITY, CULTURE, SELF EXPRESSION