Cue the Beatles . . .
You say you want a revolution:
Baby Boomers were born to start revolutions. They enacted the greatest change in history during the 1960’s and never stopped. “Flower Power: gave them the freedom to love, not hate. Now we can not only love the one we’re with – we can marry them. Legalized marijuana is all but a done deal and the riveting #MeToo Movement will spark the next female President of the United States. But Boomers need to stop the war against those dying in this country. They can make peace, not war by insisting that the chronically-ill have better access to home-based palliative care (Palliative Care 2.0).
Boomers have never followed blindly in their parents’ footsteps and certainly don’t want to die like them – carted back and forth between emergency rooms and rehab centers. The notion of redemptive suffering is a form of abuse. Get it? People fall sick and die – that’s the real lives of human beings. The incessant duty to save lives needs to be countered with not necessarily following the doctor’s orders. Doctors are like the devil’s advocate who tempt patients with the chance to live forever. Palliative care nurses are guardian angels who offer patients compassion and quality of life.
But when you talk about destruction:
The killings fields are not for patients who choose palliative care. They’re reserved for chronically-ill patients who are admitted to intensive care units. If you want to experience hell on earth, walk through any ICU and you’ll experience destruction. The bodies there are ravaged by the industrial healthcare system that serves to keep patients alive by machines rather than allowing them to rest in peace. But it doesn’t stop there . . .
Many Boomers are family caregivers who struggle with being damned if they do and damned if they don’t – tasked with doing everything to save the lives of loved ones. The more they do, the more that’s expected of them – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Family caregivers need the resources of Palliative Care 2.0 to ease not only their parents’ pain and suffering, but their own. Destruction is overcome through social justice, caring deeply for the most vulnerable.
You say you got a real solution:
The key to dying with dignity is providing chronically-ill patients home-based palliative care. Unlike medical care, palliative care focuses on personal wellness and stress reduction. It’s a form of “homeopathic” medicine that serves the body, mind and spirit. If a patient experiences chest pain, the usual instructions are to call 911 and have the patient transported to the nearest emergency room. When a chronically-ill patient with a heart condition has chest pain, the caregiver calls the palliative nurse and discusses what’s in the best interest of the patient.
The real solution comes from the heart of the individual. Give this power back to the people. Have them do it their own way. Let them follow their own hearts and choose their own direction. Palliative care nurses often listen to patients’ concerns while physicians tend to order more tests, finding more medical conditions to treat. The real solution comes from the patient just saying “No” to the doctor and “Yes” to Palliative Care 2.0.
You say you’ll change the constitution:
Boomers can be the change they want to see in the world. But they need to change their own constitution that’s often fearful of death and dying. The best way to accept death is to consider fates worse than death:[i]
- Lacking control over the situation
- Living in a constant state of confusion
- Being placed on a breathing machine or requiring a feeding tube
- Losing control of bladder and bowels
By thinking, “I’d rather be dead than . . . (any of the above personal assaults),” you start formulating medical decisions and enlisting others in a plan to strengthen your constitution and conviction. You need to be willing, able and ready to die when the time comes or suffer the consequences. Your being “able” requires the support of family members and palliative care resources.
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead.
You ask me for a contribution:
Ask not what physicians can do for you – ask what you can do yourself. Is Palliative Care Right for YOU? Do your physicians and family member know this? How do you know unless you learn more about it? Don’t take my word for it – read my booklet “Is Palliative Care Right for YOU?”
As an emergency physician, I’ve become an expert on advance care planning. The patients I’ve treated for over 25 years are my personal focus group and have a special place in my heart. I know what patients want and don’t want – I no longer have to ask them. Most patients and their caregivers don’t like being left in the dark and having others tell them what to do. They prefer to go home when there’s no real chance of improvement. Enough said. Stop shaming patients by yelling, “You know you could die!”
Demoralized patients need Baby Boomers to once again start the next revolution and advocate for personal freedom from the established norms of society. Who’s with me? Is Palliative Care 2.0 right for YOU?
[i] Rubin, EB, Buehhlet, AE,Halpern, SD. States Worse Than Death Among Hospitalized Patients with Serious Illnesses, JAMA Internal Medicine,