Commenting on NY Times End of Life Article

This post is about as off topic as a post can be.  If you came here wanting to read something about system software, virtualization or cloud computing, it is likely that you should ignore this post.

This post is about as off topic as a post can be.  If you came here wanting to read something about system software, virtualization or cloud computing, it is likely that you should ignore this post.

Still here?  Okay. The NY Times published an article that touched on some very important issues in my world (see Frank Talk About Care at Life’s End to read the article.) I found that care is all over the map when it comes to those facing end of life issues. In the end, we as a society need to reconsider how we treat those who only have a short time left.

Nearly all of the pain specialists who treated my wife during her last days would be too timid to give her enough pain medicine so that she could actually be comfortable. In more than one case, they made it extremely difficult to get prescriptions or refills.

In one case, we ran out of a medicine because I couldn't get the Doctor to give the prescription. The pain specialist told me that "I only write prescriptions on Wednesday " when an important medicine was about to run out. I had to go on a business trip, would only be in town to fill the prescription on Monday. The Doctor wouldn't cooperate. I had to go and she ran out this medicine and was in extreme pain the last day of my trip. We were fortunate that we had something that acted as a partial substitute. This was the same Doctor who allowed her pain pump to run out of morphine and then wanted to wait several days for an appointment to have it refilled..

Due to this type of "care" my wife constantly told me that her pain level was a six out a scale of one to ten when a one out of ten was considered appropriate. She handled the situation with more grace and strength. I would have been ranting and raving.

Only the folks at hospice seemed to understand that long-term effects were irrelevant to someone who had no long term (thanks again Tidewell Hospice.) They understood that minutes are important to people experiencing extreme levels of pain.

The oncologist (thanks Florida Cancer Specialists) seemed to really understand that there is a point at which aggressive cancer treatment only makes things worse. He was able to frankly discuss the situation and offer different approaches allowing the customer (note I didn't say patient) to choose.

The hospitals in our city were both, how do I say it, "less than optimal" in their approach to pain management and end-of-life care. Neither had the staff nor the capability to deal with severe cancer-related pain. One of the two did its best to include family and care-givers in the process of care. The other made it very difficult for family and care-givers to be part of "their process." Unfortunately, we often had to deal with the second hospital because one of her Doctors was only affiliated with the second hospital.

I met those who were well on their way to earning their angel wings and others who appeared to be trying to earn other implements.

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