2. What questions could I ask my doctor? • What caused this illness? • What should I expect to happen to me physically over the course of the illness? • Will I be in pain? • Will I become addicted to the pain medication? • What does dying look like? • Who will look after me when I can’t do it myself? • What are the risks of the treatment that I will be receiving? • Is my illness terminal? • How long do I have? Doctors may not have precise answers to this question and a general idea may be all that is possible. • How can I manage the quality of my life and set my treatment goals? 3. What resources are available to help me talk to my doctor? Virtual Hospice web site is an extensive web site with information and support on palliative and end-of-life care, loss and grief. . Follow the “Support” link to: • Ask a professional • Asked and Answered • Discussion • Symptoms & Health Concerns 4. Other Disease Factors Your present illness may be complicated by your previous state of health. These factors are called, in medical language, “co-morbidities” and may include conditions such as diabetes, and chronic diseases of the lungs, heart, kidneys, or nervous system. You may also experience side effects from your drug therapy, including nausea and vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, or allergic reactions. ❦ WHAT NOW? • Conversation with your doctor, including your family members and caregivers, to gain an understanding of new symptoms and provide symptom relief. You may also want to ask what to expect, physically, going forward. • Ongoing conversation with your doctor and nurses, to understand how you may react to options for treatments, and who to contact, if previously unexpected problems arise • Discussion about the risks and benefits of therapies according to your goals of treatment

Here is something to keep in mind, expressed so well by a doctor whose practice includes palliative patients and their families:

“I believe that the most important endeavour we can undertake as a profession is to become experts at difficult conversations. If we were better at talking with people at the most troubling time of their lives, the effect on patients, their loved ones, and on health professionals would be both beneficial and far-ranging”.

Jennifer Brokaw MD


Made with FlippingBook HTML5