Death And Dying: Life's Greatest Lesson (Tuesdays With Morrie)

1889 words - 8 pages

Tuesdays with Morrie revolves around the transcendent student-mentor relationship between Mitchell Albom, a workaholic sports writer and his former Sociology professor Morrie Schwartz. During his college years, Mitch develops a student-mentor relationship with his professor Morrie which quickly becomes a close friendship. However, in spite of assurances to the contrary, Mitch neglects to stay in touch with Morrie. Morrie, as we come to find out begins to slowly manifest signs of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and as of the time the two finally reconnect, is dying. Regretful of the lost time and of the state in which the relationship is renewed, Mitch resolves to visit Morrie regularly and give him an opportunity to teach his final lessons by recording their discussion of such important lifelong issues as death, fear, aging greed, marriage, family, society, forgiveness, and a meaningful life”(p 66), as well as to say goodbye.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig's disease is a progressive degenerative disease of nervous system, which affects mostly men between 40 and 60 years of age at a rate of about 6 to 8 people for every 100,000, and is incurable. ALS affects primarily the upper motor neurons of the cerebral cortex and the lower motorneurons in the brain stem and spinal cord. Neurotoxin released by astrocytes is responsible for the destruction of these motor neurons which leads to a spastic paralysis and hyperflexia from upper motor neuron loss and flaccid paralysis from lower motor neuron loss. Muscle tone and reflexes also decrease. This illness though not seen commonly, is notorious for the unremitting damage dealt to both respiratory and motor function while sparing sensory neurons, eye muscles, and the patient's cognitive function. When the destruction of neuron finally comes to impact respiratory function, the patient can no longer breathe on their own and ultimately die, usually within a period of 2 to 5 years. Unfortunately, the cause is known though there is some genetic component. Because of its characteristic sparing of a person's mental faculties while slowly destroying all functional capabilities, ALS has prompted a great deal of moral debate regarding physician assisted suicide/euthanasia. (Gould, 2014).
No treatments specific to ALS are currently available, and care focuses upon assisting the patient to have the fullest life possible and to keep them as comfortable as possible. Nursing care for ALS involves a great deal of general assistance with the performance of ADLs especially as the disease progresses and the individual is able to do fewer and fewer things for himself/herself. The nurse assists with ambulation, with eating, and with hygiene, among other things. Some diagnoses the nurse caring for a client with ALS might make include Ineffective Breathing Pattern, Impaired Verbal Communication, Impaired Swallowing, and Risk for Aspiration regarding the characteristic...

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