16 August 2011

Au naturel

As you may or not know my blood gets angried up when people use war analogies when they're discussing how people are coping or coped with their illnesses. Not because they're silly or inappropriate, but because they're always applied incorrectly.

"So and so lost their battle with cancer etc"..is the most commonly misconstrued application and it hurts me deep within my guts to think that people might use similar language about me.

Danny Baker I think tweeted about this. He said if there is a battle it's between science and the disease or in the case of incurable illness, science and death. And the patient is the battle ground.

The one thing we know about wars and battles is the longer they last the more the battle ground is laid to waste, which applied to the medicating of an illness means a prolonged treatment can often expose the patient to far more pain and suffering than if they were just left to expire naturally or, not to put too fine a point on it, put out of their misery quickly.

This is of course because death always wins. By definition an incurable illness is an unwinnable campaign for science. The goal for the medical boffins then is just to keep the battle going for as long as possible while still observing the spirit of their Hippocratic Oath.

And this is where some interesting sort of sub-conflicts can occur. For some people staying alive as long as possible is the goal and in this respect there are no moral issues as they are willing to endure incredible pain and suffering to stay alive as they see it is as the only option. Everything is better than dying.

Other people just want a swift ending, which in the case of the war analogy would be a short battle won by death essentially by science waving the white flag. Which you can argue from a doctor's point of view falls short of their Hippocratic Oath.

This is where the moral waters get a little murky as the patient and the patient's medical team who are supposed to be caring for them, want different things. A rather unfortunate dilemma and one you could really do without at such a time.

Tricky questions indeed and every culture has their own answers, but the Eskimo's have for me the most peaceable solution, possibly because they have nature to help them; when their people are in these conditions they simply remove their pajamas and in the middle of the night send them off into the darkness. Simple, effective, peaceful and painless. And why not?

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