Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospice: The Movie!

The portrayal of hospice in the movies or mainstream entertainment has been relatively obscure. There are obviously many movies, TV shows, books, and songs that deal with death and dying. Hey death and dying makes for instant drama, just add water. But any mention of hospice is usually an aside, or indirectly related to the rest of the storyline.

Well now we have a movie called Two Weeks (web site - trailer - NY Times Review) opening this weekend that seems to focus a little more on the end of life and even involves hospice as part of the storyline. I am not sure why Pallimed did not get sent and advanced review (ahem!), but luckily Hospice Guy over at Hospice Blog did. He gives a very well written two part review. First from just a movie critic/general public point of view, and then from a hospice workers point of view. Even watching the trailer, you can get the general gist of the movie, and see some moments that are pretty commonly experienced by people in hospice and palliative medicine. (Such as the ever present - "Can we have medicines for the family too" wise crack.) You really should go read his review as he discusses many important points, without giving too much away of the plot.

The movie is quite an accomplishment to complete, and I appreciate what writer/director Steve Stockman has done, since I too would eventually like to write a screenplay and direct a movie (A boy can dream...). The movie web site has a blog with stories about how this movie came to be and the writer/director's own experiences with his dying mother. They also have a cross-over site with Yahoo! Health and there we have Dr. Ira Byock from Dartmouth blogging as well.

Now one thing I would like to point out in the trailer is that they focus in on a book that is entitled "How to Die." This book does not exist. The author printed on the cover is Mark Ragland (only Google reference is to a Art Director for the movie Ernest Goes to Jail, but he is also listed as the Locations Manager for the movie Two Weeks...Interesting!). A quick search of Amazon and Google do not bring up any books entitled "How to Die." But it does make for an interesting search. And here is what I turned up...

Learning How to Die - A book about Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his clash with the record industry. Unknown why it refers to death and dying as that does not appear to be a central topic of the book.

How to Die in the Outdoors: 100 Interesting Ways - Not exactly a palliative medicine book by the sounds of the title, although I have had two patients request to be outdoors at the time of their death, I don't think this book would actually be helpful. Sounds more like a 'survival guide.'

Learn How to Die the Easy Way
- This appears to be a art and photography book.

How to Die Without a Lawyer
- A ebook designed to help you stay away from probate and lawyers gobbling up fees while settling your estate after you die.

To Die Well: A Holistic Approach for the Dying and Their Caregivers - Finally a book that most likely is probably what the movie was aiming for.

So the book "How to Die" does not exist, I guess it was probably more of a prop to move the plot along in the movie. It may have been a disguised reference to Final Exit the book that spawned much controversy in the early 90's about instructing people on how to end their lives. But since I have not seen the movie, I am not sure what role this fake book plays. I just thought it was interesting that they refer to a book that could be so controversial as too what lies inside, but in reality does not exist. After the movie comes out Pallimed may have to review it like the rest of the world.

(PS I just posted the most web links ever in a Pallimed post. Top that Drew!)

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