When you’re hanging on to hope, sometimes the things that help you get through the days between today and the cure are the medications, therapies, procedures, appliances, and surgeries that you know have been proven to help with symptoms for the person you love and care for.
Quality of life medicine saves lives, my friends. We have firsthand experience with this. However, these types of medical interventions are less exact, and more individualized. This requires us caregivers to stay calm, be open to suggestions, a willingness to test things out, to be observant of the empirical evidence (is this “thing” actually helping, or not), and engaged in the consultation process with medical experts.
Pain is a common symptom for many people. And as common as the condition is, there are many ways, and many combination of ways, to treat pain. Treatment plans for pain may depend on the person’s diagnosis, their prognosis, the medications they are currently taking, family history, etc.
While most of us might shrug our shoulders at the idea of needing a treatment plan for “pain” – for those who are suffering, living in pain may be the singular deterrent from living their life in a way that is meaningful to them.
So yes – physicians and Advanced Practice Clinicians, who are tasked with quality of life care, are in fact practicing life-saving medicine.
Let’s go back to this idea of treating pain – and this is just one of many quality of life symptoms that we could use as an example.
So – how did we know we needed a medical expert to help control pain for my darling? The pain:
- Affected his sleep. Those with chronic/ life-long conditions, and their caregivers, would all agree that sleep may be the most important indicator of a good or bad day. A good night’s rest for someone who is not well could mean the difference between being able to get out of bed, or not.
- Over the counter meds didn’t work. This was a stubborn pain and after two weeks of hoping that it was just a kink from sleeping wrong, we knew that a doctor needed to have a look.
- The pain got worse over time. Not only did the OTCs not work, but there was a marked increase in pain over time – which in turn impacted his sleep negatively.
- Mood changes. Caregivers know when their loved ones are suffering – even if they are trying to hide it. Usually because they just don’t behave as they normally do.
And so, we decided it was time for him to see a physician that specializes in pain. It took three different courses of treatment over the course of a month before we finally figured out what was going to work best for him. I’m so grateful to his pain management physician – darling’s case was not an easy one to crack, but his doctor was determined to give him back some of that quality of life that he had lost when the pain set it.
And I’m so glad he did, it has literally saved him from unnecessary suffering. And so, we will continue to wait for that miracle.