New California Story: Christopher Stookey

December 4, 2015

This week, we published another new story from California.

Christopher Stookey: A Gentle Way to Die

Christopher Stookey, MD, is an emergency physician in Laguna Beach, California. His story about the experience with his father dying after voluntarily stopping eating and drinking is adapted from his memoir, Do Go Gentle: Bringing My Father Home to Die With Dignity After a Devastating Stroke.

On a September night not long after his 83rd birthday, my father suffered a massive stroke. It left him conscious yet unable to talk and communicate, unable to swallow, and almost completely paralyzed.

After numerous scans and other tests, his doctors determined that there was no chance for recovery. My father would never walk, talk, or swallow food again. With nothing more to do for him in the hospital, we (my mother, my sister, and I) needed to decide what to do next. The social worker on the case encouraged us to put Dad in a nursing home. A gastric feeding tube could be put in, and he could be fed and kept alive that way. Indefinitely.

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