How technology has changed my life as a ‘End of Life' Doctor

Dr Ollie MontonDr Ollie Minton

 

Hello my name is Ollie Minton...

I love my phone / my iPad and they are essential parts of life. It is not the clichéd work life balance more like a detachable cyborg component – I am not ready for any implanted chips.

My digital footprint is enormous (well I have fun using twitter). I find my work IT much less enjoyable naturally as the NHS is reliant on pagers and faxes and slow computers. So it is hard to see how 'singularity' (the merger of humans and machine) is going to affect my work as an end of life doctor.

There isn’t going to be a blood test (Daily Mail style) or indeed any sort of algorithm that’s going to accurately tell you how long you might live for....  and *spoiler alert* there is no miracle cure for mortality so while it may be a long way off death is inevitable.

"There is still a 100% morality rate in humans"

 

We tend to react to celebrity deaths and mourn publicly much more but usually this is many degrees of separation.  Facebook memorials , tweets and the like but this doesn’t mean anyone does anything practical for themselves which is a shame to my mind professionally.

I can’t tell people to have feelings or to talk about things any more than you can be persuaded to see a doctor or tell them some theoretical circumstances that might lead to your demise and what you’d like to happen.

I can tell you that most doctors do everything they can to keep you alive which is great and makes my job all the harder as I meet people in who that’s not gonna work.

There are lots of myths to be debunked – the internet does not provide a sense filter - but there is no magic bullet out there. "The machine that goes Ping" is a comic take on this subject matter

...but if you get that far it’s much better to have something written down in advance or at least an emergency contact on your phone who knows how you think.

We all do sadly have to die of something (or lots of things as we get older) barring accidents and anything self inflicted and even then please please ask for help. Look

Dr Google is both your friend and enemy but if you live in England and are in doubt start at NHS choices https://www.nhs.uk

The adage goes that rare things are rare and common things are common – one in two of us will die from cancer or heart disease, no one lives forever and by 70 + even if you currently feel invincible (or at least not hungover or knackered) you’ll have had something go wrong.

I have written my Last Will and Testament and stated what I would like to happen to my digital estate. I also registe as an organ donor and have an organ donation card. I have also clearly expressed that if I am unable to speak for myself I would not want to live in a vegetative state. Image result for roll dice .gifMy advise to everyone would be to make plans for you and your loved ones… then roll the dice and may the odds forever be in your favour.

Dr Ollie Minton PhD FRCP FHEA.  Macmillan consultant in palliative medicine. Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.


Remembering David Bowie on the streets of Brixton, London

The night David Bowie died

On the night of David Bowie's death me and a few friends decided to head into Brixton in London where David Bowie was born. A celebration of his life was organised that day and tens of thousands of people lined the streets and bars.

The first thing place we visited was the artwork of Bowie by Jimmy C that is located opposite Brixton Tube station. There was a media frenzy outside and only those willing to brace the crowds could get near to the artwork.

 

 

We walked through the streets and every shop, bar, club and open window was playing a Bowie song.  Those of us on the streets were celebrated Bowie's life, creativity and his music. There was chaos on the streets whether it was due to people dancing on phone boxes or huge speakers more accustomed to being in nightclubs facing out of people's windows playing music for those dancing below.

 

David Bowie Brixton

 

Brixton became a David Bowie festival....if just for one day.

Revisiting David Bowie's memorial wall

A few weeks after David Bowie's death I revisited the artwork of him by Jimmy C and noticed that a plastic perspex had been placed in front of the artwork. Behind the perspex is not only the artwork but thousands of memorial messages written in every available space.

I had previously seen street art by the artist Banksy with protective plastic in front of it. In my mind however this was due to the high value of Banksy's work and wanting to preserve it for monitory purposes.

The artwork and the messages to David Bowie around it has become a shrine protected by a plastic screen. The artwork had a cultural, sentimental and a somewhat spiritual relevance to Brixton.

David Bowie's last music video

David Bowie changed the conversations around death and highlighted the options that are available to us. A letter from a palliative care doctor to David Bowie is well worth a read (if you have not read it already).

In David Bowie's last music video he confronts death as he lays howling in hospital.

 

David Bowie's health and funeral wishes

It appears that David Bowie made his end of life wishes known to his family. He also decided to keep his illness private and out of the media's gaze. Instead of an elaborate funeral that would be in keeping with an artist and celebrity of his stature, Bowie instead opted for a direct cremation without a large public funeral or ceremony. This was arguably the final, unexpected area of thought leadership David Bowie left the World.

 

Your health and funeral wishes

MyWishes is free and simple to use. Once you have documented your wishes keep them in a safe place and enjoy life.

 

funeral wishes button


My Wishes New York

We will be visiting Albany and New York in October and November

 

We will be speaking at this years Digital Legacy Conference and would love to meet those working within the tech, end of life and hospice sector. Please get in touch if you are going to be in Albany or New York between the 24th October - 5th November.

 

 


Welcome, to MyWishes (closed beta)

My Wishes logo

Welcome! If you are reading this message then you have been provided access to MyWishes before it launches.  I hope that you enjoy having a snoop around and we welcome any feedback you may have.

To get started on My Wishes click on the tabs (on the left hand side) of the screen. You may want to click on 'My Profile' to get started and make your way through each section.

If you click on the logo you will be redirected to the dashboard along with all of the resources that appear when you log in.

If you need any support or would like to provide feedback please click on the text on the left handside that says 'MyWishes Feedback'.

Feedback

Once you have clicked on this button we will respond as soon as we can. We welcome any suggestions that you may have....


Capturing the Spirit of Death

The idea

MyWishes is a free to use technology platform. We help to normalise end of life conversations and the use of technologies for death and dying.

Technologies have been a part of death and dying for thousands of years. The headstone is an early example of how someones final resting place would be marked with a large stone and often inscribed.

During the reign of Queen Victoria and with the emergence of cameras many people believe that photograph would capture and in-prison the subject’s soul. Early photographs where take with a long exposure and movements would often result in the photographs having a ghost like figure appear or the spirit leaving the person’s body.

The MyWishes team find this fascinating and we decided to explore this subject matter when speaking and exhibiting and the Ideal Death Show. We invited the attendees to strike a, still and somber pose. After a few seconds we asked them to move around at a slightly faster pace and then to move our of shot. Photos were captured on a long shutter speed and captured in black and white.

This was a playful way to explore a Victorian concern about death and the technological invention called, ‘the camera’.

The outcome

Over the course of three hours we took photos of attendees. By allowing participants to be playful with an area relating to death and dying, we hope that the subject matter of death became a little more approachable. We would like to thank the Good Funeral Guide for inviting us to speak and “do something experiential” at this wonderful event.


MyWishes, a community approach to end of life planning

We have been working hard with professionals and the general public to launch MyWishes in an attempt to change and better the ways in which we  approach death and ensure that our wishes are adhered to.

If you have been provided with early access and have any suggestions about what we could do better please do get in touch.

Thanks a lot,

James & the team. x


We spoke on Jon Richardson's TV show about planning for death digitally...

We were asked to talk about MyWishes on John Richardson's Ultimate Worrier. It is great that mainstream TV stations are not only taking interest in our service and what we provide but also end of life planning in general

Jon Richardson

Jon was very complimentary of our work and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and the other comedians on the show.

We would like to thank UKTV for addressing the important area of planning for death in such a creative and lighthearted way.


fantasy football

New Book Contribution: A matter of life and death

‘I rejoice that death has become less of a taboo subject in our conversations. In this timely book you will discover precious wisdom and heartfelt insights from people of all walks of life…As I have listened to these voices, I have found reassurance and enlightenment. I know this book will offer the same gifts to you whether you believe in a transition to a new life or contemplate the beyond with some uncertainty. I commend it highly.’ – from the foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Contributors from all walks of life share their thoughts on carefully selected writings, images and artwork that most accurately express death to them. Describing their unique experiences, they reveal that, beyond the heartache and the mystery, death teaches us all invaluable lessons about how we live our lives. Offering comfort, reassurance and varied insights into death, loss and its impact on life, this collection is for anyone who might be coming to terms with this inevitable destination. Royalty proceeds from the book will be donated to Ashgate Hospicecare, North Derbyshire, UK.

Last year James Norris (MyWishes's founder) was asked by the author to contribute some of his experiences on death. James decided to speak about his good friend and former university housemate Ben Birch who died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (S.A.D.S) in 2013.

Ben (above – being carried, thumb placed in mouth) was an avid football fan. He also played Fantasy Football (a online football game) each week during the football season. After Ben’s death a mutual friend from University called Andrew Hadley (above holding Ben) created a memorial league in Ben’s honour.

fantasy footballJames’ contribution revolves around the personal value he places on this league. A matter of life and death will go on sale on the 18th August 2016. You can preorder you copy on Amazon here.