These stories are based on information gathered from health
professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health
Martha, age 91: I have been in and out of the
hospital for serious heart and breathing problems for many months. I feel like
my heart is not going to last much longer. I talked about this with the
palliative care doctor who came to visit me. She told me about hospice care and
how I could be cared for at home and not keep going to the hospital. That sure
sounded good to me. She also helped me fill out a form called a Do Not
Resuscitate Order (DNR). It gives me peace of mind to know that nobody is going
to try to bring me back to life when my time has come.
Rachel, age 22: After having chemotherapy and radiation treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I was in remission and thought I was finally going to be okay. But then I got an infection, and my immune system couldn't handle it. Soon I was in terrible pain. When I was moved into a palliative care unit in a hospital, I thought it was because I was dying. But eventually with treatment my pain went away and I was able to go back to living a normal life. My palliative care doctor and her medical team were amazing. They did so much more for me than just give me medicine—they visited me, read to me, shared music, and even taught me guided imagery. Most of all, they gave me hope.
Jorge, age 29: Our 14-month-old son was
diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago. After receiving treatment, he got a
bad fungal infection. He has been in the hospital intensive care unit for
several weeks. We had a family meeting with our primary care doctor, a surgeon,
an oncologist, a social worker, and a palliative care doctor. There are no
great treatment options for our son. But we are determined to do everything we
can to help him survive. The palliative care doctor talked to us about what we
might do if we think all the treatment and surgeries are too much for our son
to handle. We are not ready to think about that, but it is nice to know that
she can help us if we do come to that decision.
Fashawn, age 32: My palliative care provider,
Christy, has been coming around a lot. I've got really bad cervical cancer, and
she is helping me feel better. I'm in a lot of pain, and she is giving me
medicines for that. I'm also having a hard time accepting that the cancer is as
bad as it is. I know she is trying to help me to feel less angry about things,
but it is really hard, especially since I've got so many problems with my
family. I guess I might have to start telling them how I am doing and see if I
can fix our relationships. I'm thankful that Christy can help me do
Dennis, age 77: I did not know why I was in
the hospital. Nobody was telling me what was wrong. A new doctor, called a
palliative care doctor, came to see me. He explained that I was weak from not
eating enough and from drinking too much beer. Finally someone was talking to
me straight. He also talked to me about how my mind was starting to go. We made
a plan that I would go to a rehab facility to see if I could get my legs
working again. Then he called my two daughters to talk to them about me. They
are the ones who are going to decide what happens to me if my mind really
starts to go. I'm glad to know that we are all on the same page.
December 29, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Shelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
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