Never Say Die?

This unusual show was part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018, and a double-act with GP and palliative care expert Prof Scott Murray. 

A lovely and lively audience heard how mortality everywhere is holding steady at 100%, and that isn’t likely to change!  However, sudden deaths are uncommon now: we humans and our furry friends typically live long and we die following one of three patterns of decline. They are 1) Acute decline (many cancers);      2) Chronic decline with occasional crises (organ failure), and          3) Prolonged “dwindling” and frailty  (e.g., dementia, arthritis).  Our pets don't worry about getting any of these.  However, most of us worry about it-for them and for ourselves--at some point. 

The audience then spoke of their fears about their own or their pets’ end-of-life: pain, anxiety, relationships, facing death, and lack of honesty from the clinical team. We also heard how trying to ignore the reality of Death--or being naturally afraid of loss--we can over-burden ourselves or our pets with intensive treatment that does little to restore “the life worth living”.  It was good to hear from Scott how having early discussions and planning ahead can all help to resolve fears and avoid futile over-treatment.

The bottom line? When we or our animals are ageing or develop a serious illness, it's good to start talking about the final frontier then.  That way, we can cope better as the disease and ageing progress, we can avoid over-treatment, and we can have more peace of mind to enjoy the life we--and our pets--still have.

For more about planning and facing these issues in our pets, see Books .

To see a short video by Prof Murray about the three common disease patterns and palliative care,  go to the University of Edinburgh website or this Youtube link.