Modern medicine is sometimes a victim of its own success. With a promise to cure, there is an ever-increasing demand to be cured at all costs, but in reality, medicine ultimately fails because death and dying is a certainty. When a cure is no longer a reality, the hope is that medicine will relieve suffering. This is particularly true in advanced illness or terminal illness.
We are fortunate to have excellent medical care in Australia and in particular, access to palliative care. Many people freak out about the thought of palliative care. They see this as ‘the beginning of the end’, but this is the wrong focus. The end eventually comes for us all, and it is at this time that we need specialised compassionate palliative care. Good palliative care should start at the beginning of the journey of an incurable illness and not at the end.
Palliative care affirms life, respects dignity and provides compassionate medical care. It provides a holistic and realistic view to life, death and terminal care. We have a lot of Palliative care resources and, where appropriate, we encourage an early visit to the palliative care team because they will be simply amazing. Please review our resources or visit episode 4 of Stickman’s adventures for more information.
There are important specific medico-legal matters that we all need to consider. One of these is an Advanced Health Directive. This is a document that clearly communicates our medical wishes for a time when we are unable to communicate. No one wants misfortune, but misfortune sometimes happens, and the magnitude of the misfortune is so much greater without these important documents.
Consider Terri Schiavo’s story and how you can prevent this happening to you or your loved ones.