Gift Ideas For Your Terminally Ill Loved One

download (14)This is something that no one likes to talk about. Terminal illness can be one of the most stressful and devastating things to watch a person go through. Perhaps it goes without saying that it is much worse for the person who is sick, and that generally necessitates that you be there for them. Most people want to offer some sort of gesture to show their concern and support, but they’re typically so overwhelmed that the most effort they’re willing to put in to buying a gift is a trip to the hospital gift shop. Understandably so. Most would naturally feel like they have more important things to be thinking about.

Of course, in spite of the fact that it seems trivial, a gift can truly be important to a sick or declining individual. We often times can become so entrenched in the more objective and medical side of things that we forget how important a patient’s feelings are to their recovery. The fact is that a person who doesn’t want to die is less likely to die than a person who does want to die; similarly, a person who believes they can get well is more likely to become healthy than a person who believes they will die.

What I’ve tried to do here is compile a list of gifts that go the extra mile to inspire your terminal loved one. Particularly things of significance across a few cultures that promote health, good luck and, most important of all to your loved on, good vibes.


An ancient Japanese legend says that anybody who folds 1,000 origami cranes (referred to as senbazuru when all grouped together) will have a wish granted by a crane, typically in the form of good luck or a recovery from illness. In some versions of the legend the person making the wish must fold all 1,000 of the cranes themselves. I like to think though that the crane in question would not mind if you bought your loved one some origami paper and helped them for a little while.

Prayer Flags

You may have seen these around before in spite of their distant origins in Tibet nearly a thousand years ago. Typically a set of prayer flags consists of five square, differently colored flags. Each flag has over 400 sutras printed on it (typically via woodblock printing), each devoted to a different deity. The thought is that if the prayer flags are hung in a high up place then as they become faded and weathered their sutras permanently become a part of the universe, thereby spreading good will for everybody. It’s a great way to promote positive vibes and they are beautiful decoration as well.

Dream Catcher

This one isn’t all too unfamiliar to most in the US, especially if you live in the rockies. If you aren’t familiar with the legend, you should know that it’s a native american legend and you would do well not to further mis-appropriate this (many people hang them from their rear-view mirrors or on walls as decorative pieces). The legend goes that a woman once stopped her son from swatting a spider on the wall who was spinning her web above where the woman slept. When the boy left the spider revealed that it could talk and desired to repay the woman for her kindness. She left her web for the old woman to keep over her head when she slept, explaining that bad dreams will become entangled in it and that only her good dreams would be remembered. This gift is particularly great for anxious children and is a symbol of good luck.

By all means, if you like to keep things simple then do. We don’t all have to be Patch Adams and not all of us can be anyway. Not that folding an origami crane makes you Patch Adams, but it will likely be a welcome refrain from all the worry. Unless you’re a doctor this is the most that you can do sometimes. And that’s OK! You’re helping much more than you know by just being present. We need to de-stress and de-compress in order for our bodies to be healthy. If you can provide that opportunity to do so then you don’t need Patch Adams.



Kidney Failure – Treatment Options

download (13)Kidneys help filter waste and regulate other functions of your body. When kidneys fail, treatment is required to restore normal functioning of the body. There are a few choices you have for kidney treatment:

Hemodialysis – this includes a machine that filters blood outside the body.

Peritonial Dialysis – this includes the use of a lining from the belly that filters the blood inside the body.

Kidney Transplant – this includes replacing the failed kidney with a good one from a donor.

The basic function of kidneys is to remove excess fluid, minerals and waste from the blood and clean it. Kidneys are also responsible for making hormones that keep your bones strong as well as blood healthy. Kidney failure can greatly impact the normal functioning of your body. Harmful wastes may build up, blood pressure may rise considerably, the body retains excess fluid and will not be able to build enough red blood cells.

Let’s take a look at all the three treatment choices:


A machine is used to temporarily rid your body of the harmful wastes and extra salt in the body. This in turn greatly helps control blood pressure from rising. It also helps balance other important chemicals in your body like potassium, sodium, calcium and bicarbonate.

Side effects of this treatment are infection, blockage that could be caused by blood clotting and poor blood flow. Muscle cramps and hypotension that is caused by sudden drop in blood pressure are some of the other side effects. These side effects can be avoided by proper diet and medication as directed by your doctor.

Peritonial Dialysis:

Lining from your belly or abdomen is used to filter waste from the blood. This lining is also knows as peritoneal membrane. It very aptly acts as an artificial kidney and removes excess water and salts from the body.

The most common side effect of this kidney treatment is peritonitis which is a serious abdominal infection. The opening where the catheter enters your body is infected. This can however be treated if reported immediately to the doctor.

Kidney Transplant:

Surgically replacing the damaged kidney with a healthy one is known as kidney transplant. A kidney transplant requires a doctor to test for blood type, Human Leukocyte Antigens and Cross Matching Antigens.

Transplantation of kidneys is considered closest to a cure. The new kidney needs to be a perfect match for replacement. Well, even if technically a donor kidney is a perfect match, there are chances that the body may reject your new kidney. The most common cause for this is not taking the prescribed medication. These medicines are used to stop your body’s immune system to attack the new kidney considering it as a foreign body hence causing rejection.


5 Things Everyone Should Know About Advanced Care Planning

imagesToo often, people do not give adequate thought to advanced care planning until it is too late. While it may seem like a touchy subject, or something you do not want to think about, planning your care in advance of emergencies is paramount to making sure you get the level of care that you want and deserve. If you have never thought much about advanced planning of your healthcare, here are five things you should know.

1. What is An Advanced Care Plan?

An advanced care plan is exactly what it sounds like. It is a plan you make in advance of ever getting sick or suffering an emergency, and details the steps your doctors and health care team can take in providing health care, in the event that you are unable to explain or make decisions about your own health care. For instance, if you have a care plan in place, and then were to slip into a coma, your family and doctors would have a document explaining exactly how you would like to be treated.

2. Considerations for Advanced Care Planning

Although thinking about how you hope to face your own death or disability may be uncomfortable, talking about the issues that could arise will go a long way to making sure you get the care you need. Start by making a list of your healthcare concerns, life values, spiritual beliefs, and anything else you think may be important to your long-term health or funeral arrangements.

One thing that is particularly important to your plan is to decide on a friend or family member that can make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. It is important that you choose someone who thoroughly understands your values and desires.

3. Consulting an Attorney

Planning your financial and medical future can be difficult to do on your own. For this reason, many people opt to consult an elder care attorney who has experience working in these issues. Your attorney can help you create a legal framework that ensures your wishes are seen to. One such document you and your attorney may work together to produce is called a ‘living will’ this document clearly states the type of medical treatments that are acceptable to you, as well as those that are not.

4. Medical Well-Being

While your living will provides detailed instructions about the type of care you want or do not want, you may also want to work with your attorney to file a medical power of attorney or to officially appoint a health care surrogate. This is a legally binding document that names someone who will make your health care decisions on your behalf.

5. Financial Well-Being

Beyond just protecting your physical health, advanced care planning also involves protecting your financial health. Far too often, when a person is beset with an accident or illness that claims their health, they have failed to make a plan for their own healthcare or the dispersion of their personal effects in the event that they pass away. Filing a living trust is a good way to protect your assets in the event that you fall ill or pass away from your illness.


The Future Of Tele-Robotic Health Care Is Here

download (12)The other day I was talking to a futurist who specializes in tele-robotic medicine. Perhaps you know a little bit about this or have read some articles in this realm. They do become popular pieces in the science news, healthcare news, or in online media. We’ve all heard about the robots that do surgery by remote control with the doctor who is halfway around the world running the controls similar to a drone operator in the United States flying a UAV around Afghanistan. In one case you are saving people, and in the other, well, you aren’t.

It’s amazing how far these technologies have come, and how fast they are moving in the present. Personally, I’ve been impressed with the Da Vinci tele-robotic surgery technologies. If you’ve ever watched the videos of these machines working is quite stunning the amount of accuracy and precision they can attain. What are the success rates? Well because only the best doctors right now are allowed to use them the success rates are fairly high. And if there is a mistake, it is either due to the operator, the doctor, or those who had set up the patient on the table prior to the beginning of the procedure.

Complications can occur as they do with any type of surgery, after all the patients are there because there’s a physical problem with their bodies, nevertheless since the success rates are decent, and the machines and technology are getting better, along with the protocols used by healthcare professionals, it’s obvious we will continue to see more and more of this in the future.

Eventually after enough procedures and surgeries these machines will have artificial intelligence and learn from the mistakes and successes of each subsequent operation. This means they will get smarter, more proficient, and the success rates will climb dramatically. In other words, one day you may go into the hospital and a robot does the surgery with perfection. Perhaps after you’re done you will go up and kissed the robot. Of course the technician will go and clean off your slobber and sanitize the robotic arm afterwards.

Interestingly enough there is more to this story of tele-robotic medicine than you might have considered. Indeed, our Think Tank has put a lot of thought into the future or “In-Home Care” with tele-robotic helpers, with operators perhaps in India and how that solution might assist with the challenges of our huge demographic shift and age distribution, not just here but around the 1st World, Japan, EU, US, etc.