Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jackie's Focus on Debut Non-Fiction


Like so many of us, award-winning writer Katy Butler always assumed her aging parents would experience healthy, active retire­ments before dying peacefully at home. Then her father suffered a stroke that left him incapable of easily finishing a sentence or showering without assistance. Her mother was thrust into full-time caregiving, and Katy became one of the 24 mil­lion Americans who help care for aging parents. In an effort to correct a minor and non–life threatening heart arrhythmia, doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker. The device kept his heart beating but did nothing to prevent his slide into dementia, incontinence, near-muteness, and misery. After several years, he asked his wife for help, telling her, “I am living too long.”

Mother and daughter faced a series of wrench­ing moral questions: When does death cease being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving life and prolonging a dying? When is the right time to say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go”?

When doctors refused to disable the pace­maker, sentencing her father to a protracted and agonizing death, Katy set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother faced her own illness, rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and instead met death head-on. Knocking on Heaven’s Door, a revolution­ary blend of memoir and investigative reporting, is the fruit of the Butler family’s journey.

With a reporter’s skill, a poet’s eye, and a daughter’s love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the tech­nological imperatives of modern medicine. Her provocative thesis is that advanced medicine, in its single-minded pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents. Butler lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that modern dying has become and chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine—a growing
movement that promotes care over cure.

Read an interview with the author HERE.

The article that became this book.

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

Jackie says:
"I spent 3+ years a decade and a half ago taking care of my dying mother. I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book—it was a difficult time that I'm generally happy to keep in the closet. However, I took the plunge into Katy Butler's book, and found out that what I felt and went through was not unique and it was wonderful to hear echoes of what I experienced in her story. She is very open with her feelings, and her frustrations, with her family, the tremendously mysterious and maddening medical army you must take on in the process of helping someone in decline and death (though Butler finds ways around it as time goes by), and the modern version of dying that has taken all the sacred away and piled up too many procedures, patches, and invasive entrances to our bodies and our lives. Butler, a Buddhist, believes that things can be different, and she shows us what is so wrong, and what can be righted, if we are willing to stand up for a better death. This is a book that most people need to read, for their family and for themselves. "

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