Fighting for effective pain management for terminal patients

October 6, 2013

Sunday, October 5, 2013

Good afternoon:

I write today to caution readers attending to a dying parent.

My mother was in a lot of pain when she was dying of cancer. I wanted her to be kept as comfortable as possible, but the medical staff wanted her to be conscious and aware of her surroundings, even if that meant she would be in considerable pain.

Instead of effective pain management by administering dosages at regular intervals, as her doctor ordered, they administered it on an as-needed basis. Oddly, one of the arguments for withholding pain medication was to prevent addiction. That makes no sense with a dying patient in constant pain.

Chasing pain spikes flaring up in a dying patient does not manage pain. Instead, it assures that the patient will periodically suffer unnecessary pain.

My mother complicated effective pain management. She would complain to me about her pain and I would summon a nurse. When the nurse appeared at her bedside, my mother would put on her I’m-tough face and insist she was OK.

Eventually, one of the nurses complained that I was trying to kill my mother. I was furious and a considerable amount of unpleasantness followed.

With the assistance of her doctor and the administration of the nursing home, I finally succeeded in getting effective pain management for my mother.

Effective pain management is possible today. Unfortunately, you may have to fight to get it.

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