Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Doctor Speak

Why can't doctors call a spade a spade? Why do they call it a digging tool, a shovel, a trowel, when, let's be honest, it's a damn spade.

Why can't doctors say the word cancer, instead of calling it a mass, a tumor, a growth? Say the 'C' word and let the shock settle, let the talk begin as to how to deal with it.

And when someone is approaching the end of their life, give the family some honest answers, it's not as if they want your time frame written in blood, it's an estimate, not something that can be predicted, as no one can predict the strength of the human spirit.

Writing about the day my Mom died, and reading of another's personal experience, reminded me of the day Mom and I went to see the oncologist.

Mom was in Week 2 of radiation treatment, and was seeing an oncologist for the first time. As I was in Florida, and would soon be returning to Canada, I needed to know what Mom's status was. Being a nurse, I was given some professional courtesy, some frank talk.

The doctor said, and I can quote as it's etched in my memory, "without chemo, she has about 2-3 weeks, and she's too weak for chemo".

That doctor was right on the money, within 2 weeks, Mom was in the hospital, and within days, was gone.

Too many times health care professionals talk around situations, and with an uneducated patient (and I mean medically uneducated) there can be many misunderstandings. Add in the hierarchy, of who gives the patient the information, and this time I mean doctor as opposed to nurse, there's all sorts of room for confusion in an already emotional situation.

Too much precious time can be lost because people don't understand that a trowel is just another word for a spade.


betty said...

I have to agree with you. I know a little bit (maybe a lot more) than the average person because of typing medical reports all day long and picking up jargon. I do appreciate that the majority of reports I type that deal with end of life issues the doctors that I'm doing the reports for are forthcoming. I have to say, in defense of them, sometimes the patients and family just don't want to hear the news. Hubby's family was like that, especially his father. He didn't want to acknowledge or hear anything that would be negative about the potential deterioration of his spouse of 64 years. Within the boundaries I had to work with, I tried to impress upon them to sit the doctors down and get more solid answers, unfortunately to no avail. The final outcome was awful and sadly not what I would have wished for my MIL, but something I had no control of not being the "immediate family."


Deborah Lean said...

Sadly, the fear of loss can over ride one's better judgement. I can fully understand.