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February 2018

Dying at Home—Our Grandfather’s Great Escape

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa/The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(2):183-184. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7295

Our 94-year-old grandfather’s last journey was not a glorious affair, an inelegant denouement to a life marked by global travel and migration. Still, to us, as we pushed his wheelchair out of the hospital lobby, it felt like we were making the “Great Escape.” It must have been a strange sight, 2 young physicians awkwardly transferring their grandfather into the passenger seat of their car, discharging him from the hospital against the expectation that he should remain there given his poor state of health. Once home, as we rolled him through the driveway toward his house, we took a family photograph, holding up his flaccid arms like a victorious heavyweight after a grueling 12 rounds. We breathed a collective sigh of relief knowing that he would spend his last days in the comfort of his home, surrounded by loved ones. We could sense his relief as well, as he settled back into his bed facing his television—news blaring, as always—and slept calmly for the first time in weeks.

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