Free «ALS disease» Essay Sample

ALS is a terminal disease. Historically, the disease is dreaded as no cure has been indentified. Thus, Morrie who contracted this disease in his seventies did not have an alternative rather than to prepare to die. His doctor tried to explain to him what the disease entailed. Although there was nothing he could do about the condition of Morrie, the doctor showed sympathy and encouraged him have positive attitude towards life. In deed, for sometime he continued to teach his social psychology class. However, he could not hold the secret for long as he announced before his students that he had a fatal disease and that he could not live to finish the semester (Albom, 1997). He also wrote a book, “Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me”.  He walked the final bridge separating death and life courageously.

The writer compares ALS with a lit candle. It is characterized by the melting of nerves beginning with legs moving up. With time, it leaves you like a pile of wax. One looses his control of muscles finding it hard to stand. In short, ALS is a fatal disease that takes a maximum of five years from the day one contracted the disease (Albom, 1997). This is the condition that Morrie was going through.

Health care policy implication of the disease can be analyzed based on the book. For instance, there was no cure for ALS. Thus, all what the doctors could do is to give an explanation on the condition of the disease to the patient. They are also required to disclose the truth to the patient once they are sure that he is able to withstand the bad news. Socially, people could stare at Morrie in social places such as in the swimming places. People did not have knowledge about the disease and how Morrie contracted the disease. Therefore, they could not understand his plight. However, through his writings, he ensured that the world was informed about the disease among several issues that pertains to life (Albom, 1997).  He was also interviewed on television where he was to educate mass audience about life. Moreover, he was able to share a lot with people through the lessons he held with Albom, his student. Albom refers such lessons not only helpful to him but to the world in general. ALS is associated with death (Donald, 2003). Thus, a humanistic approach to this fatal disease is that when you get it, the only thing remaining is death. However, we come across Morrie who despite knowing the limited amount of time he had to live decided to impact the world positively. To many, one should wait, regret and curse oneself for his fate.

Humanistic approach thus, defines that death is inevitable when ALS lands on your way. Notably, Morrie had a different perception about his life. He took life easy. He interacted with friends and relatives happily as he counted the remaining days to the grave. In deed, he held a television interview without forgetting the fourteen lessons that he had with Albom. He was weak and could not even eat leave alone standing (Donald, 2003). However, his spirit was strong and enthusiastic to change the world. He admits that he was not ashamed to die. Fate had decided that he should die that way. As a result he rekindled aspects of love and relationship they had developed while in College with his student, Albom. Albom is a key element in depicting a humanistic approach to the disease. He took care of Morrie during the time he stayed with him. He even brought his wife so that he could see his great professor before he could die.

The ethical or moral issues made prominent by the work

As Morrie grew old, his health began to deteriorate. He started by developing asthma in his sixties making it hard for him to carry his ordinary duties as usual. He therefore started to see doctors so that his health could be checked regularly. On one occasion, he went under several tastings such as those of blood, urine among others.  The lab report later showed that he had neurological problem (Albom, 1997). This was followed by series of other tests. After the test on his neurological responses, the doctor declined to give the results as he was surprised by them. Thus, he opted to check the results further. It was until later when Morrie and his wife, Charlotte visited the neurologist’s office. At this moment he prepared them for the bad news (Wittgenstein, 2000). Morrie had developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a terminal disease that attacks the neurological system.

In connection with the condition of Morrie and his relationship with the doctor, various ethics of Health Care can be established. Firstly, death and dying is normally viewed as a condition that leads to development of anxiety and discomfort (Albom, 1997). Thus, doctors are normally reluctant to talk about death. This is especially in hospitals while dealing with a particular patient who has been affected. On the other hand, there are cases where there is no hope of sustaining life and doctors have to tell the truth to the patient. An assumption has been made that patients do not like to be exposed to conditions of death (Donald, 2003). Thus, the doctor should ensure that the patients are prepared psychologically. This was the same case with Morrie where the doctor was reluctant to give his findings and decided to double check to ensure that Morrie is prepared to receive the bad news.

Secondly, lack expose to reality on the part of patient such as natural death could trigger increased fear and anxiety. Nurses have been known to hide death from patients. Moreover, our culture has negative attitudes towards death. Before, the disease could move to uncontrollable stage, Morrie wished that no one could know his condition. He writer notes, “In the locker room, the other swimmer pretended not to stare. They stared anyhow. That was the end of his privacy”

Thirdly, death is something that every human being tries to avoid. In deed, National Health Care System has been established to ensure that all human species are protected. This involves hospitals that repair as well as offer sustaining treatments. Although death cannot be avoided, ethics defines how doctors and nurses should respond to their patients in case such situations occur or when a patient has no hope of living (Albom, 1997). Thus, the neurologist who was treating Morrie abided to these ethics. He first of all decided to recheck the result before eh could break the news to Morrie. He knew the consequences of such news. Open communication in hospitals in normally rare. This is simply because; the ethics governing health care demands so (Wittgenstein, 2000). In addition, death is normally concealed and remains the secret of the doctor until they ensure that the patient is able to handle the disease.

In the case of Morrie he was devastated by the news, he asked a series of questions, “how did I get it, it is terminal, so I am going to die”. He immediately saw that his life had been doomed and was heading to the grave. He started to count his days to the grave. For sure, the disease began to show conspicuous effects within a short period of time. For instance, he was unable to drive again, swim until he could not walk again. These were the adverse effects of the ALS as it melts the body like a candle.

Critique of the authors approach

There are various criticisms that have been developed towards the author’s approach of ethical issues in health care. From his book, "Tuesdays with Morrie", Albom uses the condition of Morrie who is suffering from a fatal disease. Thus, the reader can clearly analyze some of ethical issues that are involved in the book. Nevertheless, the writer uses a lot of dramatic scenes that are hard to understand (Donald, 2003). Another major critic is the fact that he makes the reader to sympathize with the condition of Morrie. In his description, the reader can clearly see what Morrie is going through. Thus, the reader develops empathy making it hard to continue with the story.

 Although ethics related to heath care provision can be pointed out in the book, they do not highlight what is supposed to be done by doctors. For instance, the writer does not vividly describe steps that were followed to address the condition of Morrie who had contracted ALS. However, how the doctor prepared himself and Morrie so that he could break the bad news. Series of death dominates the story with Albom loosing his uncle while Morrie lost his mother as well as his coming death. This leads to development of negative mood on the happening on the play despite its informing nature.


Ethics of health care can be traced in the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Albom. The most notable incident that touches on ethics of health care is in the beginning of the play. This is where Morrie makes frequent visits to the doctor. Later, the doctor discovers that he had developed a terminal disease, ALS. The doctor decides to hold this for sometime until later when Morrie comes with his wife where the doctor breaks the bad news to him. Moreover, he goes ahead to explain the nature of condition to Morrie who was not ware of what the disease entails. With the right approach, Morrie developed a positive perception for the few remaining days in his life. This was attributed by the fact that the doctor used the right approach following the code of ethics in health care. He did marvelous work that impacted the whole world. His philosophies are still applicable even in the current generation. He also impacted the life of Albom, through his last lessons with his professor. He refers to him as his mentor.


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