I am now convinced that this country is losing not only its collective mind but its compassion as well.
My sister Ally always had a rough time finding her happy place. She finally discovered it when she met Charlie. She was pretty fresh from a divorce and even tried running scared to another state. Charlie followed her, dropped to one knee and proposed. It has been an incredible romance since then. They are truly meant for each other.
Back in October, Charlie began to experience some significant discomfort whenever he ate anything. Swallowing anything became a huge challenge. He was referred to an ENT who couldn’t find anything wrong. Charlie saw him for over six months with no relief.
He was with the wrong kind of doctor. They were not looking at his whole esophagus. He should have been referred to a GI specialist.
Easter Sunday of this year changed their lives completely. Shortly after dinner, Charlie became violently ill. He began vomiting blood. He was experiencing a whole new type of pain. They had to call an ambulance.
X-rays showed that at the bottom of his esophagus was a tumor. It was starting to obstruct his ability to swallow. It was the size of a softball.
The tumor was biopsied and Oncology brought in. It was inoperable. It was stage 3 cancer.
The Big C.
The evil disease that has claimed so many loved ones. The disease that causes one to waste away before the eyes of the ones who love them. That horrifying disease is very, very painful.
Since that day, Ally and Charlie have been on the usual Cancer treatment path. There have been two rounds of chemotherapy. There have been scans and tests too numerous to count. Between the chemo and the tumor, Charlie can’t eat solid food. He has lost 65 pounds since this nightmare began.
The cancer is literally taking Charlie away right in front of Ally’s eyes. She is beginning to realize he won’t survive this.
On the last day of the last round of Chemo, they discovered that his cancer has metastasized into his lungs and liver. It is spreading rapidly. It is highly aggressive. Chemo has now been discontinued.
The cancer is now Stage 4 and it seems that new tumors appear daily. The newest ones are on the wall of his chest. They are getting closer and closer to his heart.
His pain awakens him screaming from his sleep. He can barely catch his breath it is so bad. It is the kind of pain that those of us who suffer from chronic pain can’t even imagine — not even in our worst nightmares. It is the kind of pain that changes you and leaves you hopeless.
Due to the doctor’s overwhelming fear of being arrested due to the fake opioid crisis, Charlie is only being given Tylenol for his pain.
For Terminal Cancer.
As Charlie gets weaker, literally by the day, Ally has gone to his doctors and begged them for something stronger for him. Charlie can no longer stand up without assistance.
This past week, they finally gave him a feeding tube which turned into a nightmare as well. It is a nasogastric tube so it was inserted through his nose, down his throat, and into his stomach. On the first attempt, the tube was stopped by the tumor obstructing his esophagus. Doctors had to remove it and try again. The second attempt got the tube placed right, but Charlie was overwhelmed with pain.
They didn’t bother to sedate or anesthetize him in any way for the procedure itself.
They offered him Tylenol again.
More Tylenol even as the doctor’s witnessed him screaming in pain.
Ally does not understand the lack of treatment. She doesn’t know how he can tolerate the pain he’s is already in, and it just keeps getting worse.
Charlie is quickly losing strength. His battle is leaving him weakened.
Cancer is an evil being.
What Ever Happened to Doctor’s Vow to First Do No Harm?
When doctors graduate from Medical School, they take the Hippocratic Oath of which one of the most important components is to “first do no harm.” What is meant in medical terms is that they promise not to do anything to further harm the patient. It also means that they promise not to allow their patients to suffer.
Those of us in the chronic pain community have long questioned this anti-opioid approach. Since when did the crisis extend to stage 4 Cancer? The pain grows every day. They aren’t an addiction concern – they won’t be alive long enough to become addicted.
This is the point where palliative care is the most important thing. Keeping them as close to comfortable as possible. Making sure that they don’t suffer more than necessary. These patients are in the process of dying a slow and agonizing death. They deserve to die with dignity.
Tylenol isn’t very dignified when it comes to cancer. As a pain treatment, it should not even be in anyone’s vocabulary at this point.
This is the time when the patient deserves to be kept as comfortable as possible without interference from governmental red tape.
This leads me to my next question.
Does Compassion Even Exist in The Medical Community Any More?
Yes, there is a fear of being arrested and losing your medical license. But you have to wonder whether they have drunken the opiate crisis Kool-Aid to the point of losing their compassion or do they honestly believe that Tylenol is just as good as Morphine?
I have watched friends and family members suffer through cancer before. I have watched as they lose their battles. I have watched while they went from the point of home care to hospice. One thing stands out: they were all kept as comfortable as possible through medication.
They were not left screaming in pain.
I refuse to believe that when people decide to become doctors that it is all about the science or all about the mighty dollar. Certainly, they have to have some level of compassion inside them that will make them want to help people. I always thought that they truly cared.
When the Opioid Crisis first came to light, I don’t think that any of us could have imagined this to extend out to oncologists and patients literally dying from Stage 4 Cancer.
Yet here is where we find ourselves.
The age of Pain.
What is this world coming to?