Food for Thought


How much should a patient learn when going to see the doctor? If the patient is terminal, should he hear all the details at each office visit? How much do you think the mental and emotional well being of a patient is affected by knowing everything?

My dad in ways fought to his last breath but in other ways, he stressed just like I do. I surely must have gotten that from his side, as his mother was the biggest worry wart ever.

When my dad became ill with Leukemia, Parkinson’s and Bone cancer, yes, all three, he fought to do as the doctor said but mentally and emotionally, he didn’t cope as well. He kept family and friends away and only let a few in his life. It was like he was pretending if people didn’t know, then he was fine.

My dad ask me a lot of questions. I felt good that he confided in me but all my years of training in the health field couldn’t match up to these three diagnosis. When we went to the doctor, he asked nothing and kept his head down.

He worried and he stressed. It began to affect his quality of living. After seeing this advance, I made an appointment with his Oncologist and upon arriving, I asked permission to receive emails about the most pertinent information and when we were sitting in front of the doctor, all my dad heard was encouraging words. With the right papers signed, it was agreed on. I should add here that if it was some devastating update, good or bad, of course, I made sure my father heard it from the doctor’s mouth.

My dad started changing some. Although his body was taking on the daily grind of his sickness, his spirits became lifted and I saw a few more smiles because of the doctor’s kind words. I think this really made an impact on the remaining days of his life.

I am glad that God planted that idea in my head and that his doctor agreed with me. Although my dad didn’t make it even a year, he was more at peace with life and himself.

It is always the patient and family’s choice to decide how much to tell the patient. As I said, some patients handle information better than others and others take it to heart and can actually deteriorate much faster.

Hugs my friends.

This is my dad and my mom below. Both are now deceased and greatly missed.

4 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. I’m so glad that you found a way to help your father during such a devastating time. I think part of the problem for our parents’ generation is that they became adults when doctors usually didn’t tell the patients that they were terminally ill. They would tell the family members, but not the patient themselves.

    That began to change in the 1960’s as some patients needed to be able to “get things in order” if they were terminally ill, and some of that included reconciliation efforts before they died. It’s still a policy some countries still follow – not telling the patient that they are terminal, unless they have no family to inform instead. Mostly, they try not to say anything even if there is no one else to tell in some Asian countries.

    I was a new patient once, and the questionnaire I filled out had the question: If you were determined to have a terminal illness, would you want the doctor to tell you that it’s terminal? I thought it was a good question, because some of my family members really didn’t want to know. My birthmother was one of them. She was born with a deformed arm, and was told she was a cripple all of her young years. At one point she was urged to get sterilized after her second daughter died from a birth defect, after the first daughter was born with dwarfism. She refused (obviously), but fought to be considered “normal and valid for any consideration” all of her life. Add that she was mentally ill, and it made it clear to me that she wanted to know that her health care was never giving up on her – ever. I was given power of attorney for her health care only because I had shown I was willing to argue with her doctors for her benefit and consideration.

    So, when she was terminally ill with her third cancer diagnosis, I didn’t tell her she was dying. Only that we were working on getting her well enough to come home and be there without anyone else. That since we were all working during the daytime, we needed her to get stronger before she could leave. I lied and told her she was going to come live with me if she could avoid falling and losing her balance. She was in a “rehab facility”, not a “nursing home” (it was really both). I would visit her every weekday, and let other family members visit her on the weekend if they were so inclined.

    When one nurse told her she was dying, I told her to tell that nurse that she wasn’t dying TODAY, and that all of us are dying we just don’t know when. She smiled at that, and looked reassured. She passed only two weeks later.

    Sometimes being merciful is more valuable than being brutally honest. That’s all.

    As for me, I’d rather know every detail, so I can help make responsible decisions as timely as I can make them. I treat each day as if I won’t wake up tomorrow, so all of my reconciliations are up to date before I sleep. I’m working on my final arrangements so my kids don’t have to do it, and I’ll leave them some life insurance money. I know where I am going after this life, so I am not at all concerned about that part. I just want to leave with all of my responsibilities completed.

    Liked by 1 person

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