Monday, November 16, 2015

Failure to thrive

This month is finding me attending celebration of life services for people I know who recently passed away. 

Attending funerals and celebrations of life is the chapter of my life now being lived.  I’m more likely to attend one nowadays than a baby shower.

With one down and one to go this Friday for a departed client, I recently had an opportunity to inspect his certificate of death and noted the primary cause of death listed was “failure to thrive”.  This is a term with which I’m not familiar and, quite frankly, I’ve never stumbled across it before in the few, but not many, certificates of death I’ve had an opportunity to inspect.

Is this a medical term or what? I asked myself.  So I decided to do a little internet searching for an answer to see what I could learn.

I’m not so sure I consulted the most authoritative sources but did come across an explanation. 

Apparently, in geriatrics, the term failure to thrive is a descriptive, non-specific term that encompasses “not doing well”.  Weight loss, decreased appetite, poor nutrition and inactivity are indicators of this failure to thrive state of being. 

Four syndromes are prevalent and predictive of adverse outcomes in patients afflicted with a failure to thrive.  These are impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression and cognitive impairment.

Is failure to thrive a close cousin to the more old-school term I’m familiar with called “natural causes”?

My dear friend whose cause of death was failure to thrive was quite the opposite. He was an octogenarian avid cyclist, daily walker and curious-about-life rugged individual who lived an active and fulfilled life right up to his eventually passing.  Not that long ago, his concerned son gently escorted him off the roof where he was found one day cleaning out the roof gutter of leaves that had accumulated there.

So my middle-aged man reflections, at this thriving full-of-life moment, mentally crisp, and physically fit and strong just like my departed friend not that long ago, is that I too may one day find my life is about to end with my failure to thrive.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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