Doctors have trained for a decade or longer. They are constantly trying to perfect a task, service or procedure, and their reward is a positive outcome. I believe it’s hard for them to wrap their head around the fact that medicine is a truly inexact science practiced on complex and differing human beings. So we can’t blame them if they are head-down data driven and don’t quite embrace the other parts of a human being that they can’t get stats and science on. After all–if most people hire a neurosurgeon to perform delicate surgery on their massive mid-brain tumor, they don’t really care if the surgical team is compassionate, loving, energetically balanced or free of addictions. You just want the surgeon to be competent, experienced and highly trained. That’s the conundrum here. We want our docs to be compassionate, loving, caring and aligned, and brilliantly talented at their craft. Are we expecting too much?
Take the example of an oncologist—those doctors trained in the art of destroying lumps and bumps. If the protocol for the cancer you have doesn’t cure you, I can understand why the docs would get a little wordless and wonky on what to say to you. Even though patients don’t understand that there are a million reasons why the treatment regimens don’t cure their cancer, the doctor shuts up. Says nothing. We nurses nag, prod, demonstrate and instruct them on how to say that they have to change course, but not many listen. They’re not refusing; they’re just not interested. Not pushing forward for a cure is just not what most oncologists do. Asking them to embrace and actually learn the conversation addressing how their protocol wasn’t able to conquer someone’s cancer is just too lofty and unreasonable to expect. It’s outside their purview. And it’s considered a failure.
So, who is supposed to have That Conversation? I believe a representative from the doctors’ practice (nurse practitioner, perhaps?) or the social worker, nurse or patient health care advocate can have the “we need to think about shifting emphasis” talk with the patient.
Most people aren’t ready to die. They’re having too much fun here on earth. Secondly, most people are afraid of suffering during the end of life, so they keep accepting the designated curative drugs that may give them only a five percent chance of a cure. They’re told the risks, but have no idea how permanently horrible the side effects of the treatments can be. The doctors promise obtusely by using disclaimer words such as “It may,” “studies have shown,” and “sometimes.”
Think about it; who could be better at getting you through the dying part than the experts of Hospice− We Do Dying Well− team? Do you really think you won’t die if you just don’t talk about it? Seems like most doctors and patients think so.
The crazy thing that no one seems to understand is that you can sign yourself off hospice care whenever you want. “Off”− as in not on hospice anymore. You’ll no longer have the certified nurse aide giving you a warm bubbly bath in your home, the registered nurse who comes more and more often if your disease begins to win, the chaplain, social worker, pharmacist, medical director, your family doctor, and trained volunteers. When you’re on the hospice program you will never have to go to the hospital or doctor’s office again. Managing symptoms of pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, and the heartache of missing your home and former life is something we take great pride in helping you through.
And we do it damn well.
My point is; if you’re faced with no further options to cure you, it would be more supportive—and pleasant I might add—to sign up for an in-home consultation for hospice.
Come experience our great senses of humor, our ferocious ways of protecting you through our knowledge and expertise: and experience how nurturing and educating your family and caregivers will enhance your legacy. We even teach how to care for your beloved pets as they prepare to not have you present any longer.
Along your journey within the curative system, make sure you keep checking in with your hospital social worker, nurses, and your spiritual or religious advisor. Ask the real and honest questions and demand an honest answer.
Let the doctors to do what they do best; and we’ll do what we do best.
Consult hospice care early. Get an opinion from another perspective. This may ease the concern of those who are caring for you.