Machines, medications and man-made parts: modern medicine continues to find and develop life-saving and life-prolonging interventions.
Advancements in heart research include:
- Bypass surgery
- Man-made implantable cardiac devices like pacemakers
When organs fail, there’s dialysis for kidney failure, and transplants for kidney, lung, liver and heart. Cancer continues to be researched, and survival rates and life expectancy has greatly increased. For neurological (brain) illness and injury, medications and interventions are emerging, and rehab helps with increased function. Even infections – which were regularly the cause of death in past generations – are now treated with antibiotics.
However, as the body winds down, so-called ‘Heroic Measures’ may do more harm than intended. CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) Breathing Machines (ventilators), Feeding tubes and specific medications can be considered Heroic Measures or seem more like Futile Treatment. When making decisions about any of these, it can help to understand the longer-term results and possible complications.
Dr Daphna Grossman wants to set the record straight “In healthcare it seems we talk about ‘doing everything’ or ‘doing nothing’. With Palliative care ‘nothing’ is not an option.
Although my 96 year old aunt (pictured at left, between me and my cousin – her daughter) had no symptoms of a bladder infection, a urine test resulting from cloudy pee revealed she indeed had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI. My aunt hadn’t complained about pain or discomfort, my cousin – her ‘power of attorney’ – authorized treatment with antibiotics. Many would agree.
What if what you want until you die can’t be done exactly as you imagined?
Consider it an opportunity for creative thinking.