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Some Serious Words

by on December 22, 2010

If you are like me, reading Satomi’s “Home and ready for bed!” post is going to scare the crap out of you.

“I’m depressed but not suicidal!” 

Honest albeit a bit blunt.  The way things have been going, it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Our Oncologist visit today went a bit different than usual.  I dressed Satomi in her gown and she lied on the table with a sweat shirt over her head.  The lighting was bright so the idea was that the darkness would reduce her dizziness.  Not sure if it worked but she was pretty well isolated.

The doctor entered and we talked about Satomi’s condition.  I usually would have had Satomi join us (i.e. take the sweat shirt off her head) but she wouldn’t have heard me anyway so I let her be.

All the typical questions were asked, “How is she eating?”  “Sleeping?”  “Nausea?”  There were a few questions that were a bit more difficult so I refered to a pad of paper that Satomi had been taking notes on during the drive over.  It took a minute to read the scratchy ink blot.

The last line of Satomi’s note asked about hospice care. 

What?  Where the hell did that come from?  Isn’t that where people go to die?  It’s very upsetting to use the “D” word in any context.

It was so honest and plainly spoken I almost lost my composure.  The idea that Satomi knows what’s coming and still has the strength to speak of it so casually is just beyond me.

Discussing the hospice option does make practical sense but we had not talked of it before.  I guess I shouldn’t be bothered about it.  I mean, can you imagine discussing something as serious and upsetting as hospice care over a text message?  Inconceivable…but that is our life now.

Our Oncologist ordered “Palliative” care in lieu of hospice care.  Satomi’s cancer had not spread so the doctor felt that there was no pressing need for hospice care. 

OK but what the hell is “Palliative” care?  Honestly my cynical brain thought it was a chicken shit way of saying “hospice” care without saying “hospice” care.  I ended up looking it up on Wikipedia. 

Here’s a link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palliative_care#Comparison_to_hospice_in_the_United_States

In a nutshell, “palliative” care is similar to hospice care in that it is focused on improving quality of life, pain management, and symptom relief.  It is used for chronic illnesses.  Hospice care, on the other hand, is intended to provide similar care in an end-of-life situation.  A key distinction I think.

Ultimately, it is all about quality of life and I think everyone can agree that’s what Satomi needs right now.

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From → Medical Update

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