Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Health Care?

I am wondering today if there is sometimes a motivation far below the higher calling of healing from some of America’s medical professionals and institutions.
Here’s my thought.
An elderly neighbor of mine was diagnosed with ovarian cancer about a year ago. She initially had trouble finding an oncologist who was part of her health care system.
Eventually she found one and her new doctor recommended chemotherapy. My neighbor did that and was told they got it all, but “a little bit.”
A short time later, in follow-ups, she was told they would have to operate to remove the “little bit.”
They did. She had a slow recovery as most 87 year olds would have. Then the doctors did more chemotherapy to make sure they got it all.
Now my neighbor is entering hospice. She does not have long to live.
I did not ask this question to my neighbor, but I wonder if she was told all the implications of her disease and the truth about her diagnosis and prognosis? Was quality of life ever in the discussion?
I don’t think she was told everything based on a limited conversation with her.  I also wonder if she was told the whole truth, would she have chosen to go through all the pain, all the discomfort for a tiny bit more of life.
The desire for life, the struggle to survive is an immutable instinct endemic within each of us. We all think we can be the one. We can beat it. We can be cured. It does happen and when it does we call it a miracle.
But for most, it does not.
Cancer treatment is very expensive. The doctors, the hospital, the drug companies, all got paid. My neighbor got very little for the cost.

1 comment:

Gabi K said...

Being a nurse for now over 30 years I learned one thing for myself:
Medicine should not (maybe even must not?) do everything it is able to do.

In the case of this old lady most likely the cancer would have grown that slow (as it does with most elderly people), that it wouldn't have had a serious effect on the life time left.

Over the years I experienced more than one young doctor that was not able to tell the real truth to the so ill persons. Sometimes not even the chief physician was able to pass over the message...

On the other hand many many people are not willing or not able to face the truth. So the docters keep them treated to do just "something" that lookes like care.

And than there are the "new" physicians that are able "to get in the boots of the patients" next to their professional skills. They are able to sort out if the person is able to cope with the diagnosis and all the follow ups. These physicians are strong enough to do "nothing" but take care of the pain and give the people a good quality of life 'till the end.

Very tough subject to discuss...

Free Blog CounterEnglish German Translation