Archive for June, 2017

Medical Decisions

June 13, 2017

My blog this month is a departure from the normal theological perspective on the world. I have been stirred by the plight of people who have been going through health crisis.

Many people who are in this situation have never been in the position of having a battery of tests and listening to doctors tell them something that is foreign to them.– just so you know up front, I am a Hospice Chaplain. I see the people that come into this program that are told by their doctors that nothing further that medicine can do for them.

But lets look back when they went to their doctor with a problem that they could not figure out. Tests were run and consultations were held. Sometimes the results were not all together conclusive. The patient was told that we are going to watch what is happening and we are working on an aggressive treatment for your condition.

The patient is in a position to believe that maybe there is something to cure my condition. Unfortunately that is what they thought they heard. The doctor is just saying we will work at trying to control the symptoms. Many times the additional tests just confirm that the condition cannot be cured. (I stand with the doctors in doing this)

The problem is that the patient is not aware or informed of the disease progression. and keeping up treatment may give them hope that something will come along to cure them.That illustrates two problems 1)the patient doesn’t understand all the language and procedures 2) the doctors are hesitant many times to interpret the medical jargon to the patient. That would mean to tell them what they have is incurable.

INCURABLE is not a word that any of us want to hear. With modern medicine, we assume that something will become available to make this “thorn” (as Paul said) to go away. I understand that doctors are charged with helping people get back to health. They are wonders at treating 95% of the ills we face. But sometimes we have something that modern medicine cannot cope with.

As a Hospice Chaplain, I ask the doctors to be honest with their patients. I know you don’t want give up trying to help your patient. But honesty with them will move your patient to be able to make a decision as to quality of life. Many of the people I see said they asked for treatment to stop because of what it was doing to their mind and body.

Hospice is designed to provide the best quality of life that a person can hope for in their condition. With comfort meds and nurses that attend to their needs, these patients are so appreciative of being able to spend time with family and friends while they can appreciate them.

What is better, aggressive treatment that can be debilitating at the least to being comfortable understanding that they can have the best life they can before the INCURABLE comes to pass. My heart goes out to all who are faced with serious illness and have to go through multiple tests. When it come to not being able to cure them, I hope that they with their doctor decide that quality of life is is best for the time they have left. Amen