Thoughts on the absurdity of health care when it comes to the dying


An elderly family member just lost a valiant fight to cancer. I will write on them in another post. At this time I am still dumbstruck by the stupid things we saw done on a near-daily basis with this poor 79 year-old dying person.

Examples:

The form for the cremation asked about embalming. Why in the world would you embalm someone to then reduce them to ashes right afterward?

The nursing home staff who would leave the bathroom door open and block the TV. The last pleasure for this bedridden person was Turner Classic Movies. OK, it was likely a blur to her by that point, but it was still better than trying to watch it through a door.

The nursing home person who showed up to survey on mood and test for dementia. This was a woman who was terminally ill and in the final days of life. How would your mood be? As for dementia, she was going to be gone long before it was an issue.

The nursing home staff who would show up with full trays of food for a dying person who really couldn’t chew or swallow — and whose stomach was being crushed by tumors. The poor lady could BARELY sip Ensure if someone spooned it to her. She couldn’t eat BBQ chicken! Plenty of meals went into the trash totally untouched.

The nursing home staff who would show up to roll her in the bed to change her position or to try to take a shower or whatever. The lady had cracked vertebra in her spine and was in great pain due to the many tumors. Leave her be! It HURTS when you move her.

Arguing with medical staff about silliness like twice-daily finger sticks for managing diabetes. When you are in the last weeks of your life from cancer, then diabetes is the least of your worries.

Still taking someone’s blood pressure who is within 24 hours of death. C’mon, what is the point?

It is like the health care system is on auto-pilot and common sense has left the building. The top question with a dying person needs to be: Does this help make them more comfortable — or does it simply hurt and further strip away at someone’s remaining dignity?

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