Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Teeming Team from Palliative Care

My friend was making some tough decisions. She was in the hospital for shortness of breath, and a lot of fluid had been drained from the area around her lungs earlier that afternoon. These effusions from her metastatic cancer would soon return; the question under consideration was what to do next.

Yet another knock on the hospital door heralded yet another helper with an agenda. No, not one helper, but rather a bevy of young, white-coated women bustled in.

"Hi," chirped one, "I'm Ms. Whatever from the Palliative Care Team. Your doctor asked us to come visit with you."

Oh heavens. This well-meaning crowd was about as welcome as a flock of Grim Reapers. Right time, right place, but WAY too many of them in the room, all eyes trained sympathetically on my friend lying in bed. The one next to me with Something, MD embroidered on her lapel (didn't have my reading glasses on) leaned forward, hands on knees in the sort of poise you'd use to peer down at a small child, and outlined the services the team could offer.

After a brief and strained conversation, E. sent them packing. Great idea, nice people, but they should crowd into a conference room and review their M.O.


Anonymous said...

Ugh. This very same thing happened to a friend with ovarian cancer. It would have been so much better if her oncologist had shown up with the palliative care crew. She felt accosted by a bunch of strangers. My idea is that before going into a situation like this, every member of the "team" should be required to take 5 minutes and visualize themselves in the body, mind, heart and soul of the person in the bed.

Wendy said...

I can't believe people in the medical profession lack sensitivity. As anonymous said - they should put themselves in the patient's shoes before charging in.

Wendy said...

Oh I just thought of something. When my hubby was practicing, he referred one of his male patients to an oncologist.
This particular oncologist turned to the wife and said "take him home - he won't last the month".

How nice.