One Last Summer
A Day of Reckoning
How Palliative Care Can Make a Difference
In Gabe Catalfo's case, palliative measures helped ease a
During his last two weeks, a hospice nurse visited Gabe at
home. He got a backpack-sized device that allowed him to self-administer doses
of the powerful pain reliever fentanyl at will. Blood transfusions were
performed at home. Phil Catalfo even arranged for a Tibetan lama to visit and
soothe Gabe's spirit.
Eventually, Gabe grew weaker, stopped eating, and started
drifting in and out of consciousness. It was a heartbreaking time, and yet his
father describes Gabe's death as peaceful, the two of them holding hands one
evening as Gabe lay on the sofa.
Later that night, Gabe's sister, Jessamine, had a dream about
her brother. Was it easy to die, she asked him?
Yes, he answered, it was -- just like breathing. "And then
he said, 'It feels so good to walk again.'"
Beatrice Motamedi is a health and medical writer based in
Oakland, Calif., who has written for Hippocrates, Newsweek, Wired, and
many other national publications.