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In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth
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In the Midst of Life (2010)

by Jennifer Worth

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Showing 4 of 4
"A dangerous subject"
By sally tarbox on 5 November 2017
Format: Paperback
I'm not a viewer of the 'Call the Midwife' TV series. I mildly liked Worth's "Shadows of the Workhouse". But THIS is a fantastic and educative read which I would recommend to all.
Taking as her subject death, the author draws on her years of nursing experience, and her more recent dealings with people who have been saved from death by medical intervention - but also the many who were resuscitated from a potentially quick release, only to suffer a long and traumatic demise from some other long-term condition (or new problems brought on by the treatment itself.)
This is not an easy subject; the media focus on success stories - we don't hear of the problems medicine itself causes for the (mainly) elderly. Worth tells of surgeons who agree a patient would be best off left to slip away, only angry relatives would sue, the surgeon's career would be ruined - so the individual is prepared for the theatre.
Living wills, Dignitas, reported out of body experiences,the often pointless use of resuscitative techniques... Worth gives a balanced viewpoint to all.
She contrasts the acceptance of death in Victorian times, and in some societies still today, with our own embarrassment, refusal to acknowledge it, shield people from the sight of a dead person.
There is no simple answer - but I was left with a general feeling that if I'm old and frail I won't be seeking interventions at all cost but would prefer to die naturally.
One of the most significant books I've read this year. ( )
  starbox | Nov 5, 2017 |
First of all I have to admit it that I thought this book was about Worth's experiences as a nurse in the 50s and 60s. Instead I found a thought-provoking discussion about death including the "death-defying tactics" used by the medical profession who will not allow a patient to die where there are advanced levels of medical care that might delay death even at the expense of the patient's comfort. Worth also speaks of care homes, many whose first priority is to their shareholders, not patients, similar to hospital management that is based on business models. She makes some excellent points until reaching the topic of euthanasia or assisted death when she sank into an irrational religious argument strangely at odds with what she had written before. Ironically, at an advanced age, she was found "dead" at the bottom of a swimming pool and resuscitated successfully, knocking her earlier arguments against resuscitation on the head. ( )
  VivienneR | Aug 18, 2016 |
I was not familiar with Jennifer Worth's other books but this one was very thought-provoking and interesting. I listened to the audiobook version, read by Barbara Flynn, whose wonderful voice made it easier to take in. Some of the earlier stories were sometimes really difficult stay with. Worth was a nurse in England in the 50s and 60s and she chronicles some of her most memorable experiences to illustrate how attitudes about death, dying and health care have changed over the years (and not changed, too, to some degree). This is such an important conversation and there is so much reluctance in society to deal with it. The state of medicine has changed so much and while it has brought a lot of good, it has also created a lot of very scary realities to our lives.
This audiobook was on 5 discs. ( )
  jessibud2 | Oct 31, 2014 |
This is a thought-provoking book essentially about death and dying. Jennifer Worth makes the case for a more natural approach to death and medicine, using examples from her deep experience as a nurse. I found myself in agreement with her in many ways, which surprised me greatly. it bears re-reading and is not at all mawkish or hard-going. ( )
  J.Bryan | Dec 29, 2012 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Worth, Jenniferprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flynn, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the beginning is my end; In my end is my beginning.---TS ELIOT
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Dedicated to Lydia, Daniel and Eleanor and all of their generation They are the future
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My grandfather died in 1956 at the age of eighty-six.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Jennifer Worth was a nurse, midwife, ward sister and night sister from 1953 until 1973, working mainly in London. Her first passion was - and still is - music, and she is a Fellow of the London College of Music. She taught piano and singing for about twenty-five years and still More...sings in choirs all over England and Europe. She plays her piano (a 1904) Bluthner) daily, and is at present studying the entire keyboard works of J.S. Bach. She has been married for forty-five years and has two daughters and three grandchildren.… (more)

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