Posted by: Leah | September 9, 2011

Fight with a Disease. Really?

Let’s get our vocab straight – there is no such a thing as a fight with a disease. When people get sick, they don’t start any battle. They don’t lose a fight. They don’t give everything they can to a fight. People with a mental illness don’t fight any demons.

People LIVE with an illness. This army healthcare vocabulary disturbs me a lot. First of all, people with whatever disease don’t have much choice – they either go for treatments and possibly live much longer or they don’t and die much sooner. Treatments fight an illness and sometimes people too. Yes, it takes courage to face whatever they have, and treatments and many more. However, the real heroes are doctors and nurses who provide treatments, diagnose and have compassion.

Secondly, this idea of heroism and survivors alienates people with an illness even more – and they are not much different from you and I except for that they have to LIVE with an illness.

And living with an illness might be tricky because the control shifts from you to doctors, family and what have you. Still it is not a fight. There are no winners or losers; there are people who are lucky that time to make it through.

And since we are on the topic, palliative care or a life-limiting illness does not equal dying tomorrow. Diabetes is a life-limiting illness, which means people who have it are very likely to die from complications of it.  Stage IV cancer is a life-limiting illness, because eventually people will die of it, but this eventually might be as well in 20 years. Palliative care focuses on comfort measures mostly; however it does not mean approaching death. I know one old lady who has been in case of a palliative physician for 8 years now. eight years in and kicking in strong.

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