“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain

I have had a lot of end of life discussions with many patients over the years. In fact, I had a patient a few months ago show me her new tattoo…DNR…right across her chest. This sort of thing was a part of myth and lore in residency. So and so would know of so and so who said they had known someone who had seen something of the sort, but no one had ever actually laid eyes on it themselves.

DNR = Do Not Resuscitate.

I have always told friends and family that I want to be DNR. I thought that when I had kids, I might change my mind. But nope. I have not. Don’t put a tube down my airway. I do not want to be on a ventilator. If my heart stops, just let me go.


Because generally speaking physicians are actually a fearful lot, even if we don’t want you to know it. We are afraid of not being in control. Of suffering. Of not coming out of it whole and intact. I would rather die than face these things, having already been on the other side of the bed in the ICU.

I may need to get a tattoo.


4 thoughts on “DNR

  1. I hear ya. I do enough burns and trauma to see that there are things worse than dying. It’s not about surviving, it’s about surviving with quality of life or life as we enjoy it. So I am with you!


  2. I adore the woman you met with the tattoo.
    I say a thousand times yes to this. If I die, let me die. Because medicine doesn’t cure death. Death isn’t a sickness. Death is a part of life. When we resuscitate, we “undo” death very rarely and when we do, it is really more of a delay and often makes the process more painful for everyone involved.
    Maybe I should get a tattoo, as well.


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