Thursday, December 22, 2016

Modern medicine and Harsh Reality

I have to write this post.
In 1989 my Father died in a city hospital [a very good one] far from his home. He did not want to go there, preferring the care from our own small town Hospital. He was 85 and had lived a marvelous full life. The Dr's wanted him to go to the big Hospital for tests. He had had a dime sized spot on one lung since had not changed in size but they wanted to do tests.
He did not want to go. We talked long about it and I told him it was his life and his choice, he said to me 'If I go up there I will not come home'....he had these hunches that had been 100% right at that point. We faced the Dr's and told them he preferred to stay in the local hospital. They were angry with me but Dad was as sharp as could be and knew what he wanted.
I was calving out our cow herd at the time and went home to look after them. That afternoon I went back to town to spend time with Dad. He was not there, the Dr's had pressured my brother into pressuring Dad. They had sent him to The city. I was so angry. Now he was alone, in a huge hospital he did not want to be in, surrounded by people who didn't know him.
He died there after complications from ulcer surgery, the Dr's had totally missed the ulcer in their pursuit of a benign mass the size of a dime.
I learned one thing from this....we are so obsessed with saving lives we have completely forgotten quality of death and the reality that we all die.
What brings on this post....Ralph's mother died on Wednesday the 14th. She would have been 86 on Christmas Eve. She had married the love of her life, raised 7 wonderful children, had her own business and truly had a grand life. She had moved in to a nursing home. We were amazed at the drugs she was on. The side effects and interactions of these drugs were insidious. Ralph would call her and she would be sick from this or that, he would ask her what they were doing for her and it was always another pill.
On Sunday the11th Ralph got a call she was not well, pneumonia and sepsis. We really had a feeling then that this was her time. The Dr's flew her to a big city hospital where Ralph met the rest of his family. There was no hope. The sepsis was everywhere. She died there in the ICU, under heavy pain medication, with her family.

Now I will sound hard, but the costs of this will be high. She was nearly 86, had lived a good life, where was the honest reality? The Dr's at the nursing home [which is in the local hospital] must have know, are they poor Dr's? Making her comfortable in a facility she had called home for 3 years would not have been uncaring. We have to deal with death. It comes to us all. Dying is natural, not a medical brawl to keep an old and sick heart beating, to squeeze the last penny out of a Medicare patient.
We truly need to start looking at quality of death, the way we leave this world is as important as how we come into it.
The drugs that Ralph's mother was on......have side effects.....Sepsis, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, all of which she had more and more frequently as she stayed at the nursing home.
Interactions between these drugs increase the severity of the reactions. It is disturbing to see the answer to everything medical is so predominantly drug based.

Think on it. Ralph and I have talked of what we want. If it is possible we plan to be at home when we die. I know we do not want to live a medicated and semi sedated life in a nursing or rest home.

God Bless you all and keep you safe


  1. Thank you so much for this post. First let me say I am sorry for your loss - both that of your Dad and of
    Ralph's Mother. Even those deaths of loved ones that occurred in years past can bring tears to the eyes and a longing in our hearts.

    I am in full agreement with your analysis of our prescription dominated medical care. I find myself in heated arguments with my family doctor over the medications he seems to think I need and his apparent reluctance to consider alternative treatments. It doesn't seem to matter that I felt much better before taking the prescribed meds than I do now while taking them. The side effects are worse than the disease. I am in the process of searching for a doctor who will actually listen and will work with me.

    Because my age passed the "over the hill" mark many years ago and I am now rapidly sliding down said hill toward my final reward, I do think about my own demise now and then. Two things come to mind. The first is that if it is at all possible, I want to remain living at home. Being the willful old bat that I am, the very thought of others telling me when to eat, when to sleep and when to pee gives me the shudders. I do not play well with others, especially when they try to tell me what to do. The second is that when it is time for me to die, I want to be able to do it in my own home, my own way and without being connected to machines designed to keep me alive long after God and my body have decided otherwise. And unless there is severe pain involved, I would prefer to die clearheaded as opposed to in a drug induced fog.

    We need to make our wishes crystal clear to our loved ones - in writing - notarized - so there is no doubt about the way we wish to spend our last days. Thank you for being so forthright about a subject that most shy away from.

    (Sorry about this comment being the length of a novel. )

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    My dad passed in 2011. I don't care who sees this, but he was taking injections of Humira for rheumatoid arthritis. The injections caused cancer in the abdominal wall, and he died seven months after the diagnosis. Their own commercials state clearly that cancer is a possible by-product. Don't do it. Just don't. Modern medicine is all about the money, and cares nothing at all about the patients, nor the lives that are ruined because of it.

    I apologize for the rant. May God bless you, and hold you all snugly in His arms. And may the profound love of this season override the loss, and comfort you.

  3. This is an issue my family has been dealing with in terms of my mother in law. Then again, my wife and I are getting older and we are being besieged by doctors to take expensive tests our insurance won't pay for. They tell us these tests are essential. But then we take them, and they say they found nothing, it was just "a precaution." I'm very frustrated with both insurance and the medical establishment.

  4. God bless you, fiona and ralph.

    mother is 91 and her mind is gone.
    she is in a nursing home because her aging kids have had their own surgeries, et cetera.
    could not keep up 24 hours per day to oversee her.
    felt guilty about it, but it had to go out of my hands. necessity.
    i have been in hospital with 8 machines atatched to me and tubes in most orifices, and new orifice made where there wasn't one. [now healed over, thank God.].
    i hope that home care will be more widely accepted.
    not euthanasia , but a natural letting go.
    we had to have outside nurses--thank God for medicare and medicaid-- because it was more than we could handle.

    when you reach old age your children are aging and becoming needful of medical care themselves, so thanks be for outside help.
    it is terribly hard but now your parents are where joy is unceasing and no tears shall ever fall. they are free and healthy and joyful.

    may that thought bring you comfort when the sadness visits you.

    love, deb

  5. Fiona, so sorry for your loss. But I hear ya.

    I was so saddened to find how long they kept poor Zsa Zsa Gabor on life support before she finally died. FIVE YEARS!!! OMG...

    I have told my family numerous times, don't keep me alive. I am a Christian and I'm ready to go when I'm called. In fact, I really worry about the state of our world and I really hope I can die before it gets really bad.

    It's all about the dollar and they pump all they can out of you before they let you go. Something very wrong there. Hugs xoxoxo

  6. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. They are never easy but far too often our institutions makes them even harder. Blessings & Best Wishes to you both.