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This I Believe

KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Maggy Galloway

Maggy Galloway moved to Houston almost 20 years ago with her husband and two children. She became a Registered Nurse shortly after arriving in Houston and has worked primarily with geriatric patients. So called “end of life” issues are a part of her daily professional life and it’s the focus of her essay for Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe.”


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Dealing with death is something that Maggy does daily. She works with nursing homes and hospice facilities and in her capacity as a Registered Nurse, she holds hands and comforts those in her care. Despite Herculean efforts, life ends and facing that reality is something she says few are prepared for. Maggy Galloway has a nurse’s perspective and shares it in her essay for Houston Public Radio’s This I Believe.

I believe we Americans have a very strange attitude about death.

In my work, I have a special opportunity to observe people as they face the end of life, or the end of a loved one’s life.

Though many cultures accept death as part of the life cycle, we Americans tend to fight it tooth-and-nail. When we receive a terminal diagnosis, we go rushing to the hospital for lots of tests, hooked up to monitors and have tubes inserted into our bodies. We spend most of our medical dollars in the last year of life, often prolonging dying, not prolonging living, and certainly not improving the quality of life.

Most Americans profess a belief in an all powerful being, and in some sort of after-life. Yet those who most staunchly profess these beliefs are often those who most vigorously fight against dying.

Some people choose hospice care, the so-called ”good death,” or ”death with dignity.” This involves accepting that this is the end, and it includes comfort measures only. No endless rounds of tests and tubes, no CPR. I think people don’t realize what CPR really is. It’s a process that often breaks the ribs of an old person, sometimes puncturing a lung or the liver, and rarely does the patient return to a level of health that resembles how they were before.

I don’t know for sure how I will react when my time comes. Someday, a doctor may look me in the eye, and say ”this is it- you won’t get out of this one alive.” Perhaps I will be overcome with panic, and I’ll rise up and grab the lapels of that white lab coat, and yell ”save me! Perform every test! Insert every tube!”

Oh, I hope I don’t do that. I hope I’ll quickly come to accept the news. I believe it would be best to spend the last days, weeks or months of my life in a satisfied reflection on a life well-lived, and in happy anticipation of my after-life. This I Believe.