Food For Thought
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Hospice Care for the Dying - Is It Humane?
August 14th, 2000
Updated July, 20 - Dec. 15, 2009 - May 5, 2010
by columnist
David Lawrence Dewey

"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
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Is hospice care for the dying humane? I don't believe so, here's why.

This past summer, I had a friend whose mother was dying of cancer. She was placed in hospice care after remaining in a regular hospital room for over a week. This was in a medical facility in Minnesota. They placed this woman whom I will refer to as Sue on what was called a morphine drip pump where she could get up to 5 milligrams of morphine an hour for pain. In her last days, this was increased to 20 milligrams an hour. This literally stops the person from breathing. Keep in mind that for ten days Sue had had no nutrition, no food. Sue was receiving the bare minimum of water the body needed via the saline solution in the morphine drip to keep her one remaining kidney functioning. The doctors told the husband, son and daughter that this was the most humane way on treating the dying was not to feed her. The doctors further explained to the family that the dying supposedly are more comfortable when not fed, even tube fed. If you have ever had any type of medical training, this is right the opposite of what you're taught. You feed the sick, not starve them to death. And this is exactly what happened to this wonderful woman. Sue was left to a slow, very painful death of dehydration and starvation that continued on for over six long painful weeks. This to me is simply a legal Dr. Kervorkian method for doctors to slowly kill people that are dying.

The human body if it does not receive nutrition via food will literally start to "feed" on itself, regardless of the illness. It is even worse if the person is ill because the body is needing nutrients to try to heal itself, even to the last minute of life in people dying from cancer. Sue was literally starved to death. Even the doctors told the family they had not seen anything like this, someone that had held on that long. The reason why is that without the people receiving less than 4 ounces of water a day with morphine through a I.V. tube with no tube feeding will die from literal starvation within 7-10 days. The son related to me that at one point he had asked his mother pleaded when she had briefly come out of her drugged state to please feed her, she needed food. There was nothing the son could do, the doctors would not listen.

What makes this case even more disturbing is the fact that the doctor at the HMO that Sue, who was 69 years old at the time went to three years ago complaining of stomach problems completely missed the cancer. About a year later they took her gall bladder and part of her colon out during emergency surgery. They found small tumor on the colon wall. The tumor was cancerous, but they "thought" they got it all. Without any further testing, the doctors quickly dismissed her complaints over the next several months that she simply had an infection. They started Sue on antibiotics. Here again, the over prescribing of antibiotics by doctors. If they don't know what is wrong with a patient because doctors will not take the time or expense ( remember this was an HMO ), to find out what is truly wrong, just feed the patient antibiotics. The person is on Medicare so it will not cost the HMO anything. After only a few days of being on antibiotics, Sue informed the doctor that she was discharging fecal matter through her urinary tract. This is not normal by all means. Yet, the doctors kept telling her it was an infection and simply increased and changed her antibiotics. She then developed a serious yeast infection. Finally, the pain got so bad after 10 months of her passing fecal matter through her urinary tract, Sue was hospitalized. This was in May of this year. During this emergency surgery, they found that in the previous gall bladder/colon surgery, that her colon wall had been "stapled" to her urinary tract. This was the cause of her passing fecal matter through her urinary tract and vagina. They also at this time had to remove her kidney because it had had been completely destroyed by the infection cause by the latter. They also had to remove her entire colon, saying now that she had terminal cancer and had only a few months to live.

This is most offensive malpractice case I have ever heard. My question is, here was a 70 year old woman, who was in an HMO. Have HMO's regarding the elderly when they find or suspect cancer is to avoid the proper treatment because of the cost of the treatment. The normal procedure when any type of cancer is found is chemotherapy and or radiation treatment. None had been offered to Sue when the tumor was first found during the gall bladder surgery. She was simply told, "we think we got it all".

I have written about Sue and her ordeal for two reasons. Sue needs vindication for how she was treated and what she had to endure during her final days. And last, this is a prime example, a warning to us all of just how bad our health care system has become. Our government has allowed huge corporations to own HMO's without any safeguards to Americans. These HMO's only interest is in making a buck, regardless of human life and suffering. We have allowed this to happen. We sat back and allowed the politicians that we elected to let this happen, so we have no one to blame but ourselves. Why is it that when you confront a politician about this, they don't want to talk about it. The reason...they know the truth.

What is even more disturbing is in how Sue died. She was literally starved to death. This is a slow, very painful way to die. Sue had a tremendous will to live. Even the doctors remarked, "we can't believe she lasted this long". Regardless of what so called "experts" believe that the dying are more comfortable when they are not fed, this to me is the most inhumane way to allow a person to die, especially when they ask to be fed. Besides, how do these do called experts know this...have they experienced what they are putting these people through? What is so disturbing about Sue's case is that for about four weeks before she became ill, she had been taking a liquid natural supplement that could possibly help her immune system to fight the cancer. This supplement has shown in several women to reverse ovarian cancer, even in the third and final stages of their cancer. One of effects of this supplement after about four weeks of taking it is that it supposedly starts to detox the body of cancer cells and will make the person deathly ill. It also supposedly starts to balance the immune system. Could this be another reason why Sue lasted much longer than expected? If you want to learn more about this supplement, contact Nurpharma Nutraceuticals at 305-861-3355, mention you say this on my site. They can send you testimonials from terminal cancer survivors and research data.

While Sue was in the hospital, the son pleaded with the doctors to have this supplement administered to her. The doctors flatly refused because it was not mainstream medicine. Where do doctors get off playing GOD in matters like this. A patient has rights and if Sue and the son wanted this supplement, she should have been given them.

During this time that Sue was dying, ( her son by the way is also a Senior paramedic ), did things to help ease his mothers pain and suffering, but he was limited. He told me he had nothing but praise for the nurses on staff. I have always said that it is the nurses that do the actually healing in patients, not the doctors. Most doctors are too busy playing God and on the ego trip of self importance to even touch a patient. They have proven in research that touch from a healer, a nurse and or doctor has a positive healing effect on patients. They have actually recorded body temperature changes, heart beats, blood pressure, and even immune cell increases. When the son was talking to one of the nurses about his mother not being fed, the nurse began her reply with, "the Gods...whoops...doctors...."

If this story has struck a chord in you by making you aware of the serious health care crisis we have in this country and you decide to not get involved to change things, then my comment to you is this... you or your loved ones, parents better not get sick.

If you are also concerned about your health, then make sure you read my column,
Hydrogenated Oils-Silent Killers. You'll learn how these oils are causing you everything from premature heart disease, high cholesterol and triglycerides levels to diabetes type II.

~ God Bless ~

~ David Lawrence Dewey ~

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In the United States, medical diagnosis and treatment is constrained by law to be the exclusive purview of state licensed practitioners. The diseases discussed on this site are serious, sometimes life threatening matters. Neither the content nor the intent of this column may or should be construed as the giving of medical advice or as recommending any treatment of any kind. The purpose of this column is to support informed discussions, to provide medical research links and and to help the patient identify the doctors who keep up with advances in their field.
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