Journal Entry – Re: Radiolab Podcast, 'The Bitter End'

Yesterday I introduced the Radiolab podcast I listened to as part of my Emergent Gathering class, ‘The Bitter End’.  I need to preface this post by stating that I have not previously listened to Radiolab, and really only keep up with one podcast.

In a follow-up to my previously shared thoughts I would like to make some observations about the podcast.  One, the hosts of the show seemed to raise more questions that they answered, and I think this is healthy.  Two, this is a side of medicine that most of us (especially me) would have never thought of exploring.  Even if I had heard the study results in passing I would have never considered diving deeper into idea that trained medical professionals do not want the same lifesaving, often quality of life limiting, treatments that the rest of society force upon ourselves and loved ones.  The overwhelming majority of medical professionals surveyed only wanted to have pain medication given to them to keep them comfortable.

Another interesting finding was that when surveyed about how they wanted to die, non-medical professionals said as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Which is odd when the same group of people stated they would want to receive lifesaving care, even if it in fact is painful and could result in a lower quality of life.  It’s a paradox.  On one hand we have this desire to sustain life, but on the other we are terrified of dying in pain.

I guess the real question is where do average out?  How does our desire to want to live as long as possible mix with our desire for quick and painless death?

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos/flickr/CC-BY-2.0