Modern Medicine And Caregiving.

I prefer not to write on Friday mornings as I have to post the LBC post in the evening anyway. Today is however an exception, as the topic that I want to write about just demands to be let out of my system.

I met a neighbour and friend yesterday after a long time. He has been busy the last couple of years helping his wife battle cancer, and though we have been seeing each other and would wave to each other, we had not found the time to have a quiet chat till yesterday, when both of us met while walking.

He is a completely transformed person. The confident, joyful and joking person has morphed into a morbid, shaky and unsure person. The doctors have given up hope and have stopped all treatment for his wife. It took them two years of all kinds of test, treatments, re-tests, hospitalization, relapses, treatments again and so on and so forth. He is so confused about the present, leave alone the future, that I had no words to comfort him. When I asked him how best I can be of help in his present condition, he simply said, pray for his wife and him.

On my return home, quite shaken by that meeting, I received a phone call from another friend to inform me that his wife passed away the day before. She too died of cancer, but did not suffer for as long or in the way my neighbour’s wife has suffered.

The difference between the two cases, is that in the latter, the doctors told both of them clearly in the beginning that the case was hopeless and at best another few months of living could be assured, but in great discomfort for the patient and the family. The wife, the brave lady and her husband, much against the wishes of other so called well wishers, decided to go the route of controlling the pain with drugs and face the end together. From the time of the first diagnosis and the passing away, it took just over six months. During that period, she was pain free but totally bedridden and my friend patiently looked after her like he would a baby.

Yesterday in the evening, I was talking about these two cases with another friend who sent me a link to an article in the New York Times, which I seem to have missed reading. It makes for poignant reading and I wish to share that story with my readers. Unusually, I had a restless night thinking about how medicine seems to be doing many wrong things and playing havoc with patients and their care givers.

I am still in a disturbed frame of mind, as sooner or later, I may well have to face similar situations either as a patient or a care giver, and despite telling myself that I should take things as they come, one day at a time and all the other formulae, morbid thoughts have been haunting me, and I hope to use this writing exercise to provide me with some catharsis.

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