ZDogg’s Pop Music Parodies End Of Life Care

ZDogg’s Pop Music Parodies End Of Life Care

Posted on Sunday, August 2nd, 2015 at 4:30 pm by lifemediamatters

Zubin Damania is not your average doctor.

Known to millions of YouTubers as ZDoggMD, he has taken on testicular cancer, sleep apnea, anti-vaxxers and unprotected sex with rap-inspired parodies of popular music videos. His latest effort explores the physical and societal costs of prolonged, invasive end of life treatments and unknown care wishes.

“Ain’t The Way To Die” – a reworking of the massively popular 2010 single “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna – has been viewed more than 120,000 times since its July 28th upload.

He sings: Just gonna stand there and watch me burn/ end of life and now my wishes go unheard/ they just prolong and me and don’t ask why, but it’s not right because this ain’t the way to die, this ain’t the way to die.

“It took ten years working at Stanford as a hospital doctor, seeing how dysfunctional our system was, and feeling like I had no voice,” the 42 year-old Damania told Life Matters Media. “We weren’t focusing on patients, but on the bureaucracy. It was sort of a cry for help in 2010, because I was so burned out. If I didn’t reconnect with what I was passionate about– making people laugh and educating people– I was going to go crazy and probably have to quit my job.”

The project reinvigorated him, and Damania has since founded Turntable Health, a membership based primary-care clinic in Las Vegas. He hopes that his newest video, both catchy and comical, encourages viewers to consider their final wishes and discuss issues like artificial nutrition, hospice care, do-not-resuscitate orders and futile interventions with their families.

As health care costs rise and millions of baby boomers age, Damania wants to change the culture surrounding death. “I see so much horror at the end of life in how we treat everything,” Damania said. “That goes for patients not making these decisions, not having these conversations, family members misinterpreting wishes and applying their own guilt or values on a patient, and physicians refusing to have conversations. They feel that death is kind of a failure.”

Dogg targets hospital readmission in R. Kelly parody

ZDogg targets hospital readmissions in R. Kelly parody.

Damania’s humor in discussing death continues a pattern of poking fun at taboos. “More Than Warts,” an anthem to the HPV vaccine, is inspired by Extreme’s “More Than Words.” His “poo-rody,” “Nothing Compares 2 Poo,” remakes the Prince ballad made famous by Sinead O’Connor in 1990.

“With end of life and dying, everyone really deeply wants to have this conversation,” Damania said. “But the taboos are a result of fear of dying and fear of our loved ones dying. Partially, it’s all the egotistic grasping we have. These videos just open the conversation.”


Each video takes about one week to complete. Damania writes the lyrics with his friend Dr. Harry Duh, a pediatrician with the Permanente Medical Group in California. He edits them himself.

“I always try to pick songs that I personally love,” he added. “We did a song called ‘Readmission,’ a parody to the R. Kelly song, ‘Ignition.’ That was a readmission anthem waiting to happen.”

Damania said he was one of many younger doctors discouraged by the demands of conformity within the U.S. health care system. However, social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter have become outlets for his creativity; ZDoggMD videos have attracted more than five million YouTube views.

Damania, a music minor in college who played guitar, started this project with no singing experience. “I’ve always been internally writing little parodies, and in school I was kind of the class clown,” he said.

ZDogg explores end of life care in "Ain't The Way To Die."

ZDogg explores end of life care in “Ain’t The Way To Die.”

Damania’s success in tackling end of life issues comes nearly a year after the Institute of Medicine called for new public engagement strategies to foster informed decision-making. In its seminal report, Dying in America, the IOM recommended the use of “appropriate media and other channels to reach audiences, including underserved populations,” as well as the encouragement of “meaningful dialogue among individuals and their families and caregivers, clergy and clinicians about values, care goals, and preferences related to advanced serious illness.”

The IOM maintains that Americans are ready for this conversation, as many have seen how the current health care system has treated family members. Now, they do not want the same for themselves. As ZDoggMD sings, it “ain’t the way to die.”

Activist Finds Inspiration In Death

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2015 at 3:03 pm by lifemediamatters

Alexandra Drane regrets never asking her sister-in-law about her end of life care wishes. At 32, Rosaria “Za” Vandenberg, a devoted wife and mother, was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer and began a journey of painful treatments and hospitalizations.

“She was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve and died seven months later,” Drane said. “One of the realizations I was only able to come to after her death, is that we did a really terrible job taking care of her, but not in the obvious ways. We were there every single night in the hospital with her throughout the entire process. But we never talked with her about what she wanted, we didn’t push back hard enough against the system. Her case was one of over-treatment.”

Drane said Za spent at least four of her last seven months in the hospital and received hospice care far too late, partly because doctors never recommended it. This month marks the 11th anniversary of her death.

“We were in a hospital that shall remain nameless but is known for delivering excellent, excellent clinical care,” Drane said. “But excellent, excellent clinical care does not go hand-in-hand with excellent human care or excellent soul care. I feel like some of the institutions across the nation that are seen to be the best are therefore by their own best intentions maybe the worst at end of life, because they feel like they’re never supposed to give up on patients.”

Drane said it was “soul wrenching” to watch her 2-year-old niece visit her once-vibrant mother lying in her hospital bed with tubes, strange noises and smells surrounding her.

“My sister-in-law was a joyful, soulful and gleeful mama,” Drane added. “Her daughter kept pulling away and pulling away from her. As a family, if you had come to us, we would have been ferocious in explaining to you how we were giving her the very best care.”

Engage With Grace

Drane gave a Ted Talk in 2010 about end of life conversations

Drane gave a Ted Talk in 2010 about end of life conversations

Instead of telling doctors to do everything they can for a dying patient, Drane wants families to first ask themselves what their loved one would truly want. Then, they can work to honor his or her wishes. To help patients and families make their wishes known before serious illness strikes, Drane co-founded the nonprofit Engage with Grace.

The free website offers a “one slide” of key questions patients should ask themselves: Could a loved one correctly describe how you’d like to be treated in the case of a terminal illness?; Have you completed any of the following: written a living will, appointed a health care power of attorney, or completed an advanced directive?; If there were a choice, would you prefer to die? The website also allows patients to submit their own stories of loss.

“We wanted to give people an excuse to have the conversation, the ability to say, ‘I heard about this slide, here it is,'” she explained. “Seventy percent of people want to die at home, yet only 30 percent do. We don’t usually have these conversations.”

Drane estimates the “one slide” has been viewed more than one million times. She stressed that everyone’s end of life wishes are different, and some people will choose aggressive treatments until their final day. She stresses that the most important thing is for those wishes to be honored.

Culture Change

Conversations about death and dying are becoming more common, Drane said, because of programs like “Death over Dinner” and the aging U.S. population.

ENGAGEGRACE“We are finally getting to a place, where maybe because enough folks are hitting that age and the demographics are sort-of creating a mandate that we will all have this experience and for most of us it will go bad. But baby boomers historically aren’t happy with things that are bad,” she said. “Baby boomers changed how we were born, how we have jobs, how we marry and how we have kids. I hope they will change how we die.”

She hopes to provide resources about personal finances, because so many seniors lose most of their assets in their last years of life.

“Dying well is also more cost-effective,” Drane said. “Twenty-five percent of seniors lose all their assets in the last five years of life because of advanced care. We have people who have not died in the way they would have chosen and they devastated their financial legacy.”

Intensive End Of Life Care On The Rise For Cancer Patients

Posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 at 6:21 pm by lifemediamatters

Conversations about end-of-life care are difficult. But even though most people now take some steps to communicate their wishes, many may still receive more intensive care than they would have wished, a study published in July found (NPR).

Oliver Sacks: My Periodic Table

Posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 at 6:19 pm by lifemediamatters

I LOOK forward eagerly, almost greedily, to the weekly arrival of journals like Nature and Science, and turn at once to articles on the physical sciences — not, as perhaps I should, to articles on biology and medicine. It was the physical sciences that provided my first enchantment as a boy (The New York Times).

Six Years After ‘Death Panels’ Debate, Medicare To Pay For End Of Life Talks

Posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 at 5:51 pm by lifemediamatters

Medicare plans to reimburse physicians for counseling patients about their end of life care options.

The unexpected change comes nearly six years after similar proposals were dropped from President Obama’s health reform law and inaccurately compared to “death panels” by some conservative politicians, most notably former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

A version of the story was originally published at lifemattersmedia.org

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