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What really matters at the end of life BJ Miller
Well, we all need a reason to wake up. For me, it just took 11,000 volts. I know you're too polite to ask, so I will tell you. One night, sophomore year of college, just back from Thanksgiving holiday, a few of my friends and Iwere horsing around, and we decided to climb atopa parked commuter train.
It was just sitting there,with the wires that run overhead. Somehow, that seemedlike a great idea at the time. We'd certainly done stupider things. I scurried up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up, the electrical current entered my arm, blew down and out my feet,and that was that. Would you believe that watch still worksé
Takes a licking! (Laughter) My father wears it now in solidarity. That night began my formal relationshipwith death my death and it also beganmy long run as a patient. It's a good word. It means one who suffers. So I guess we're all patients.
Now, the American health care system has more than its fair shareof dysfunction to match its brilliance, to be sure. I'm a physician now,a hospice and palliative medicine doc, so I've seen care from both sides. And believe me: almost everyonewho goes into healthcare really means well I mean, truly. But we who work in itare also unwitting agents
for a system that too oftendoes not serve. Whyé Well, there's actually a pretty easyanswer to that question, and it explains a lot: because healthcare was designedwith diseases, not people, at its center. Which is to say, of course,it was badly designed. And nowhere are the effectsof bad design more heartbreaking or the opportunityfor good design more compelling
than at the end of life, where things are so distilledand concentrated. There are no doovers. My purpose today isto reach out across disciplines and invite design thinkinginto this big conversation. That is, to bring intention and creativity to the experience of dying. We have a monumentalopportunity in front of us,