Archive for Palliative Care

Demanding (Hospice) Decisions: Care vs. Cure

A singular vowel makes each word distinct from the other. They are among the simplest of four-letter words in English . . .

Cure.

Care.

However, the choice between the two represents one of life’s toughest decisions. There are a few core basics when explaining hospice. None are easy to hear. All can make someone, and those who love that someone, unsettled, scared, angry, numb.

  • Entering hospice means there are six months or less to live.
  • A hospice doctor you’ve never met, along with nurses, social workers, and other “strangers,” will now help make your health-related decisions.
  • For many hospice patients, the medications given—morphine, Ativan, methadone—are the “bad” drugs. Aren’t these so-called medications addictive or for “crazy people” or only offered when pain is unbelievably unbearable? Addiction, craziness, and pain never appear on anyone’s bucket list.
  • And, of course, hospice means care rather than cure.

Care vs. Cure. That’s the kicker. That’s the hospice gut-check. Abandoning a hopeful four-letter word over that other one-syllable word changes . . . everything. Your life now has a clock ticking away. Strangers arrive at your door, claiming to “help” you. The medications you’re offered are never featured on the pharmaceutical commercials with happy families and well-behaved dogs and a voice-over racing through the nasty side-effects that promote the newest drug for the best cure. Read More →

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Hospice Secret #9: Palliative Care

All hospice care is palliative care.

However, palliative care is not limited to hospice.

Wait . . . before this gets more confusing, how is “palliative” pronounced?

The experts would say: pal-ee-ey-tiv. Me, I usually mispronounce the word, abandon one of the syllables, and go with: pal-ya-tive. According to the stuffy Oxford English Dictionary, the word emerged in Late Middle English from the French by way of ancient Latin. With Latin and French in its family tree, no wonder palliative is a tongue twister.

What did it originally mean? To cloak. In other words: to cover, hide, or disguise.

Enough word history.

If young, elderly, or in between, and have an illness causing discomfort pain, you should consider “cloaking” the pain with palliative care. I refer here to serious physical pain (often accompanied by emotional and spiritual suffering) that never goes away. While doctors won’t be telling you the disease you have will likely cause death in hospice’s “six months or less” timeframe, what if it causes daily, physical anguish? Sometimes the pain can be so relentless and persistent that a patient may think dying is better than living with non-stop agony.

When in pain, everything else becomes secondary. Read More →

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