Archive for Comorbidities

List of Comorbidities

A person enters hospice based on a primary diagnosis. Multiplying cancer cells will lead to the death. Or, the aging heart grows weaker. Maybe lungs are compromised. Dementia demolishes normalcy. All of these illnesses may become fatal.

However, as we get older, as we get sicker, as we become more vulnerable, there’s typically more than one illness eroding the sturdy walls of our vitality. When a hospice team first reviews a patient’s history, her or his comorbidities are discussed along with the primary disease. In other words, we are alert to the other life-limiting conditions that assault fragile flesh and brittle bones. As a non-medical participant in the care of a patient, the number (and numbing names) on a list of comorbidities that can afflict someone often flabbergasts me.

Let’s say Patient A, a lovely 60-something teacher, is dying from breast cancer. But she also has . . . diabetes, hypertension, AAA, CVA and DJD and more.

Let’s say Patient B, a once feisty 80-something, struggles with congestive heart failure. But he also has . . . Alzheimer’s, CBBG, Hypothyroidism, Acute MI and COPD and more.

So many things can harm or kill us. (Can harm or kill . . . me.) Read More →

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Diss, Dys, and Hospice

btm0idnrkehdvvrcu5ok“Don’t ‘diss’ me, man.”

I first heard the slang diss in the 1980s, probably in a film or on TV. I’d always assumed it began in the raucous hip-hop music movement. An abbreviation of disrespect, the shorter diss made for easier rhyming and—at first—insider language for the hip-hop world. But lexicographer Jonathon Green found a reference for diss in a 1906 Australian newspaper. Could the slang term have actually emerged from the land “down under?”

Because of my hospice work, I think of different phrases. Instead of “diss,” I learn new-to-me appearances of the prefix “dys” on a regular basis.

“Don’t ‘dys’ me,” I might wish for our patients, but dys never disappears for too long as we confer about our patients’ health issues. In a meeting this week, a nurse explained—clinically and efficiently—the long list of comorbidities for a new hospice admission. The patient had, the nurse said, dystonia.

Dystonia . . . dys-what? Read More →

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