Death With Dignity

Death With Dignity

by Robert Orfali


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Death With Dignity by Robert Orfali

In Death with Dignity, Robert Orfali makes a compelling case for legalized physician-assisted dying. Using the latest data from Oregon and the Netherlands, he puts a fresh new slant on perennial debate topics such as "slippery slopes," "the integrity of medicine," and "sanctity of life."
His engaging writing style brings clarity to these issues. The content is thought-provoking; the arguments are well-researched, air-tight, and original.

This extraordinary book provides an in-depth look at how we die in America today. It examines the shortcomings of our end-of-life system. You'll learn about terminal torture in hospital ICUs and about the alternatives: hospice and palliative care. With laser-sharp focus, Orfali scrutinizes the good, the bad, and the ugly. He provides an insightful critique of the practice of palliative sedation. The book makes a strong case that assisted dying complements hospice. By providing both, Oregon now has the best palliative-care system in America. Reading this book, above all, may help you or someone you care about navigate this strange landscape we call "end of life." It can be your gentle and informed guide to "a good death" in the age of hospice and high-tech medical intervention.

Robert Orfali, the guru of client/server systems in the early days of Silicon Valley, co-authored three best-selling books that demystified the complexity of these mission-critical systems and made them understandable to a whole new generation of programmers. The books sold over a million copies. In this book, Robert uses his analytical skills to deconstruct the most complex system he has yet encountered: our modern end-of-life system. He wrote this book after helping his soulmate and coauthor, Jeri, navigate her death from ovarian cancer in 2009. The deep emotions Robert felt allowed him to look at how we die from a different perspective, another angle. Robert also wrote Grieving a Soulmate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936780181
Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc.
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.53(d)

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Death with Dignity 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fen12 More than 1 year ago
We're all going to die sometime, and as controversial as the subject is, this book will bring things to light that should be done that most of us have probably not thought about. It is also a highly interesting and well written true story of Mr. Orfali's wife, what she went through, and how both of them handled difficult situations. It is clearly written to help us understand health care directives and end of life circumstances.
Ms_Croichy More than 1 year ago
Death with Dignity is a remarkable book. Prior to reading this book, I was clueless on what was happening with America's healthcare system, specifically dealing with the end of our lives. The author definitely breaks down every aspect of it. Furthermore, he actually goes into depth with the individuals who are intentionally ending their life because of suffering. Thanks to the author and the various quotes through the book, we can all have a clear picture of how to deal with euthanasia. Great book!
Icecream18 More than 1 year ago
I loved how knowledgeable the author was about this issue. He provides a very strong argument for supporting euthanasia. He speaks of freedom of choice, informing the reader that in other periods of history humans did not necessarily control their lives, but today they do. The reader also picks up this book knowing that the author's wife passed away due to ovarian cancer, making this a personal issue as well. The short quotes the reader will find scattered throughout the book add to the reader's experience. They are all relevant to the subject. The foot notes, indicating the research the author utilized while writing the book, are very helpful to those readers who may look for further information. The author provides just enough information without inundating the reader with too much information. He speaks of hospice and the necessity of good care, the likes of which are not available to everybody. He provides counterarguments and points where necessary. This book is highly recommended to adult readers or anyone interested in the subject.
thebeardenexperience More than 1 year ago
In his book, Death with Dignity, Robert Orfali addresses the controversial topic of euthanasia and its place with terminally ill patients. With excruciatingly well-researched points, using the latest data from Oregon and the Netherlands, Orfali presents his points in a balanced and clearly thought out manner, using analysis and facts to support his case. Orfali explores the shortcomings of and suffering associated with the end-of-life system that is currently in place, a system that he felt failed Jeri, his soulmate who he had to watch go through agony in the last 16 hours of her life. Death with Dignity is a well-written and informative book that will answer questions, and raise a few, for all readers, no matter which side of the debate you stand on.
AmyU10 More than 1 year ago
"Death With Dignity" is a very informative and interesting read for all. It will give you the tools to be knowledgeable if ever or whenever you are faced with a loved one in terminal situation. Although, I personally do not believe in ending your life early, I do believe everyone should still read this book even if it is just to know what goes on in our hospitals and to have the knowledge to not be naive if you were ever to have to face such a horrible situation.
GabrielNA More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I was on the fence about assisted suicide. To me it seemed to be playing "God". "Death with Dignity" really opened my eyes to the other side of the story and made me think and consider how I would truly feel if I were in that situation. I like how the author really delves into the issue and uses his own personal (sad) experience. "Death with Dignity" shows the true side of assisted suicide. I highly recommend this to anyone who is on the fence about this sensitive issue!
booksatthebeachSK More than 1 year ago
Americans fear death, doing everything in their power to avoid the topic and the issues it raises. For many of us, death is an unwelcome visitor whose reality is only manifest when someone near to us is impacted. Our lives are lived in the mantra developed by television writer Andrew A. Rooney, ?Death is a distant rumor to the young. We never contemplate the inevitably of death since our culture is inculcated with the idea that if we eat right and exercise, we can stave death off forever. Death is always that happens to someone else and we are conditioned to lament the tragedy. Whether or not we invite her, death will visit us all. Such a visitation occurred for the author of Death with Dignity, Robert Orfali, when his partner Jeri inevitably succumbed to a terminal illness. By his admission, he was not adequately prepared for the reality which accompanies death - the last moments when the goal of the medical establishment is to help a patient transition with he least amount of pain. Being present for his partner's last moments, he was haunted by her deathbed confession: I waited too long. Watching his partner during her last moments on earth launched Mr. Orfali on a quest-to see Oregon's Death with Dignity Act made law in Hawaii, so that those who are terminally ill can obtain and use prescriptions from their physician to end their lives. The basic premise Orfali elaborates upon is: do the terminally ill have the right to request Nembutal, or Pentobarbital, to end their life at their choosing? An honest review of this excellently written book requires an initial disclaimer-this writer believes in the sanctity of life as directed by an apprehension of a particular faith. However, having worked in the critical care environment, I have seen the issues which confront patients, and their families, in one's last moments. As a nurse, I have been witness of, and party to, the saga that is defined as withdrawal of care, to allow a patient's natural degradation to unfold. During these instances, a medical practitioner and/or the patient's family chooses when enough is enough. As I read this book, I kept asking myself, ?Is there a difference morally if a patient chooses when to die? The book analyzes what have been referred to as ?slippery slope? arguments-arising from the fears society has if physician-assisted suicide is ratified. While sometimes it appears that Orfali sneers at a mere faith-oriented objection to physician-assisted suicide, his argument against the slippery slopes of legalizing Nembutal for those who request it seem very sound. Orfali is to be praised for raising the question and encouraging open dialogue, particularly for those in terminal situations. Perhaps the main thrust of the proponents can be boiled down to choice: who should choose the appropriate time to die? I must confess- I do not see a moral difference between a physician-family liaison choosing the time or a patient deciding the right time.
bwbatlarge More than 1 year ago
In his new book, Death with Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia, Robert Orfali makes a compelling argument for physician -assisted dying and euthanasia. Orfali was inspired to explore and write about euthanasia after his soulmate, Jeri, died of ovarian cancer, leaving him haunted by the 16 hours of torturous agony that she experienced at the end, firmly believing that the suffering was unnecessary and that there had to have been a better way for her to die. Death with Dignity is a thought-provoking exploration of the euthanasia debate, examining all sides of the issue, asking and answering some of the important topics pertaining to the issue: Does it devalue human life? Does it violate the Hippocratic Oath? Could there be a misdiagnosis? Is the decision truly voluntary? Among the issues delved into, Orfali addresses whether or not there is the possibility for discrimination against various marginalized groups of society, whether or not we are on a slippery slope to Nazi Eugenics, and other hot-button topics that get to the heart of the controversy. Each topic addressed is presented with a point and counter-point, presenting the reader with all facets of the argument and allowing them to choose the one that they find the most logical or most aligned with their personal beliefs. Readers are also given valuable insight into our present system and its shortcomings, starkly contrasted with the "good death" that may be on the horizon and what it will take for society to reach that point. While many of these debates have been around for as long as euthanasia has, Orfali gives readers the most complete source of information and issues, most thought-provoking presentation of them, and fresh, original thoughts founded on the latest data from Oregon and the Netherlands. For readers from both sides of the debate, as well as those who are wavering somewhere in the middle, uncertain as to who to side with, Death with Dignity is a must-read.
Pacificbookreview More than 1 year ago
"Death With Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia," by Robert Orfali is dedicated to the loving memory of his wife, Jeri Edwards Orfali. Robert Orfali clearly states his book is not about Jeri, but rather he uses her life and what she went through as an example to interpret the matrix of laws, cultural taboos and religious concerns people currently confront when faced with a terminal illness. Like a 58 faceted diamond, Robert Orfali shines the light of understanding, logic and honesty through each of the prismatic cuts on the issue of terminal illness; revealing a spectrum of colors of clarity of thought, determinations and options. He has an uncanny ability to "peel the onion" of such a complex situation, layer-by- layer, into meaningful and easily understandable deductions of reason. What one gets from reading this book is a sober reality-check on how to deal with the end of life decisions, events and protocols of caring for the critically terminally ill, or yourself. This book is for everyone, not just those currently fighting a disease, as "we all are only one heartbeat away from death." Mortality is the common dominator of all life. If we have self-control granted to us for how we live, why are we faced with no decision when it comes to how to die? The concepts of euthanasia, both self-administered and physician-administered are key discussion points throughout Death With Dignity. The States of Oregon and Washington, and the Netherlands prove most pro-active in their humane approach to administer the drug Nembutal; a 100% effective and painless drug used to cease life. The legal pre-requisites and procedures necessary along with the patients' decisions are clearly identified to result in a lawful self-administered death. This may be viewed as suicide to some, or if assisted brought under the umbrella of murder, however Robert Orfali removes all of the religious and sociological "spin" on the topic. It is truly beyond the scope of this review to even scratch the surface of the minutiae of detail, scores of examples and postures of reason brought forth in this expertly written book. Suffice to say this is the most comprehensive and thought-provoking current research I have seen on the issue, as well as an easily assimilated platform for understanding the complexity surrounding suicide. The humble and sensitive character of Robert Orfali is revealed "between the lines," as one reads many of his transcripts of conversations with his late wife. Can this book help people suffering from cancer? Certainly; but that's not only why it was written. It helps all people. It helps the patients, their families, the medical profession and society when the issues within "Death With Dignity" are openly discussed and understood. Professionally footnoted in a scientific literary fashion, the book has appendixes with data on further reading available, helpful organizations, websites and more. Robert Orfali has certainly taken time to bring an expert understanding quickly to those who need to know this information - to some before it is too late.
shoma_mittra More than 1 year ago
Death is the final separation. When a loved one passes on, it is difficult enough dealing with the trauma; but how much worse is it when your loved one suffers from a terminal illness before their time comes? How do you handle caring for a loved one knowing that, as Pink Floyd put it, '.. you're older and shorter of breath and one day closer to death.' Modern medicine has made it possible to cling on to life that little bit longer but( in some cases) at what cost? Robert Orfali rests his case for legalising physician assisted dying or what we know as euthanasia in his book Death with Dignity. He says in his book, that we cannot choose how and where and to whom we are born and most often we cannot choose how to die. But sometimes with the help of modern medicine, we are sustained and forced to live longer than we would care to. Orfali states, ' modern medicine has the technology to sustain us past the point of awareness.' We are told to fight to the very end but if that fight is wrought with immeasurable pain and suffering, then what good is that life? Hospices are a slightly better option only because the focus is more on comfort care rather than constant medical interventions and intubations in a cold and clinical ICU. Robert Orfali was a software expert and he and his wife and soul mate Jerri dealt in programming and distributing software systems. They co -authored books and lived the idyllic life till Jerri was diagnosed with cancer. Then Robert became her sole caregiver and helped her cope with her day to day life. Jerri's cancer progressed and soon it was evident that things were going downhill. Jerri was a strong, clear headed woman who knew exactly what she wanted and she wanted death without pain. The state of Oregon in the United States has legalised physician assisted dying and this is what Robert is advocating. He believes that the option to have the administration of a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal along with the option of palliative care will improve the choices that terminally ill patients can have. It will give them the choice of a painless dignified death. And a person who still has all his cognitive capabilities intact should be allowed to make that choice. In order to state his case Robert not only sites many istances from around the world where Nembutal has been recognised, but also gives options and solutions as to how physician assisted dying can and should be made legal. 'Nembutal provides another palliative care option -an alternate way to die. It allows us to combine the beautiful hospice end-of-life experience with a gentle and easy death.' This is an explosive topic and no one knows that better than Robert Orfali. He has been there, done that. He has endured the incredible pain of seeing his partner die. There are obviously many hurdles before euthanasia or physician assisted dying can be legalised in most parts of the world, but it is a matter which is very much worth pursuing. After all we are all headed to that destination one way or another.
ArtShaman More than 1 year ago
Author Robert Orfali examines all the intricacies of dying for the terminally ill and structures his arguments in a logical and helpful way. Whenever I had thought of suicide for terminally ill people I had always thought they could use the running car in the closed garage option which I have heard is pretty painless, but the one thing I hadn't thought of was the dilemma that Orfali addresses head on in this book. What if you want to live as long as possible, but do not want overwhelming pain at the end? Are you going to be able to go to the car, start it, and complete the necessary tasks at that stage? Are you even going to be able to swallow? Orfali points out that many times people die in ICU while being treated aggressively and painfully to try and prevent that death. He makes a case for belief that this aggressive treatment, in terminal cases, is more like torture than treatment. Orfali's perfect (but in most states illegal) solution is to be able to administer either by swallowing or by injection, a fatal dose of Nembatul. Orfali points out that we treat our dying pets better than we do our dying human loved ones. He support his argument with solid data from Oregon where physician-assisted dying is now legal. The author provides logical arguments in his Great Debate chapter structured as points and counter points. He invites activists to use his book to create a better death options in all states. he says he knows that most people are not highly motivated enough to fight for legal death with dignity, but it hopes that some will. He makes that even easier by pricing the ebook at only 99 cents.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
In 2009, author Robert Orfali lost his soul mate Jeri to ovarian cancer. After nine years of battling the disease, Jeri's fight came to an end in her home, surrounded by friends. With the aid of hospice, Jeri's late-stage pain was eased but Orfali knew that if she had been allowed to use Nembutal (a life-ending drug), her suffering could have been lessened. This book is Orfali's tribute to his soul mate, and his effort to get Jeri's Law, a death with dignity law, passed in his home state of Hawaii. Death with Dignity is broken down into eight chapters. The reader is first given an overview of how death occurs in the United States today, with examples of terminally ill patients begging family members to end their suffering. This is followed by examples of how some people would prefer to die, specifically in cases of the terminally ill: with dignity and as little suffering as possible. We next learn what hospice offers, how other countries deal with death and euthanasia, the arguments against assisted dying and perhaps the most intriguing chapter of all, point and counterpoint where the author takes on an extensive list of arguments against euthanasia and through research, statistics, and his own personal experiences, debunks those arguments. Orfali advocates ".the legalization of physician-assisted dying modeled after Oregon's Death with Dignity Act" (pg. v) and presents many compelling reasons for such a bill in his home state of Hawaii and indeed, for the entire country. It is interesting to note that study after study shows that people overwhelmingly support physician-assisted dying, with some studies reporting upwards of 70% of those polled favoring it. Why then have just three states, Oregon, Washington, and Montana, legalized self-administered, physician-assisted (note: not "physician-administered") euthanasia? Because, notes Orfali, while the majority of citizens are in favor, they are poorly organized and do little to promote such bills. It is, as the author notes, not a pleasant topic and not one most people want to even talk about, let alone spend time advocating for. In contrast, those opposed to such bills, such as the Catholic Church, pro-life groups, and the American Medical Association "hierarchy," are well-funded and organized. To get any form of euthanasia passed in this country will be an uphill battle. There is no doubt that legalizing physician-assisted dying is an emotionally charged issue. To his credit, the author keeps emotions at bay and instead uses his analytical skills, born from his experiences as a client/server programmer, to deal with the subject matter logically. While you may not agree with each and every point Orfali puts forth, this book will definitely make you think and possibly re-examine how you feel about euthanasia. Quill says: Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, you will find this book a compelling, and well-researched, case for legalizing physician-assisted dying.