Question Terminal Illness

Terminal Illness



 "It ain't over till its over."  (Yogi Berra)

What impresses me most about motivational speaker and surgeon Bernie Siegel, MD, is his emphasis on how essential it is for doctors to not take hope away from their most seriously ill patients. Dr. Siegel is very, very right. I would like to build on that by offering my ten ways to improve quality of life and length of life.

 1. A condition may be serious, and generally considered fatal by expert medical opinion. Well, expert opinion has been wrong before this. Dewey did not defeat Truman. 

 2. You risk nothing when you acknowledge desperation. Health practitioners often hide from patients when they think nothing more can be done.  Too bad, because desperate patients work harder. Harness that will to live and go for it. 

 3. Read for encouragement. An internet search will instantly bring up all kinds of positive, practical information.  

 4. Death is to be denied, fought and beaten for as long as possible. There is too much talk about "preparing for death," "putting affairs in order" and "accepting death as a fact of life." You can if you want, but I will never negotiate with death. Death is described as the "last enemy" in the Bible (I Corinthians 15:26).  We're all going to go, but we certainly don't have to go quietly. Life may be fatal to everyone, but it doesn't have to be today and it doesn't have to be you.  Don't wait until you hear the rattle of death; duck and run for it now. Is this an attitude of "denying" death? Not really. In Africa, we did not deny the existence of lions by avoiding them. Keep fighting, and don't worry about hurting death's feelings by doing it. 

 5. Medical doctors generally fight disease with one hand tied behind their backs. This is because they arrogantly assume that if they don't know it, it isn't knowable or worth knowing. Baloney. Aggressive use of vitamins and radical diet revision DO have their place in the science of therapeutics. Besides, if someone is going to die anyway, what have they got to lose? 

 6. Body saturation of vitamin C is indicated by loose stool. diarrhea. Saturation of carotene is indicated by orange skin. Saturation of niacin is indicated by flushing.  In respective order, these are the benchmarks of maximum use of the most powerful antibiotic-antiviral, cancer/heart disease preventer, and mind-calmer in nature. If you are really sick, and still haven't looked into these, then you haven't really lived yet. If you are breathing, you haven't died yet. 

 7. Practitioners, here are four steps to harnessing the life force even in grave cases. 

  A.  LISTEN to the patient; they will tell you more than technology ever can. Patients will tell you why they are sick, and it is as likely to be from misery as from microbes.  Don't forget stress reduction training, counseling, clergy, hugs. 

  B. KNOW about nutrition and vitamin therapies and ALL possible options. Never say never, and do your homework. Were he a physician, Will Rogers might have said "All I know is what I read in the journals." Get your nose out of JAMA and NEJM and read other journals, such as American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Doctor, if you are too busy to seriously investigate alternatives, then you are too busy. 

  C. Access your patient and COMMUNICATE knowledge, one adult to another. Provide your references and give homework. As you did yours, the patient should do theirs.  It only takes half a minute to provide a patient with an alternative medicine reading list and the suggestion, "Take vitamins, eat unprocessed foods, get and use a juicer, and load up on vitamin C." I'm NOT saying that this is a sure cure but rather that it is a very potent and very low risk pack of additional measures you were likely not taught in medical school. 

  D. MOTIVATE and stimulate the patient to want to try all possible healing approaches. We do not trivialize medicine nor do we guarantee miracles when we urge alternatives. Doctors and patients alike must do everything possible to get well. Every physician is duty bound to offer ALL options "for the good of the patient, to the best of my ability." Your ability includes offering encouragement.  Build a fire and fan it. 

 8. For a terminal patient, any improvement at all is cause for celebration. Slowing the rate of decline is improvement. Stabilization is better. Some recovery is better still. Cure is, of course, the best. Improved length of life is a major goal, but improved quality of life is the most important of all. 

 9. The only thing good about yesterday's obituary column is that you weren't in it, and the proof is that you are reading this today. The people that didn't make it have no bearing on you. Will Rogers was once told that parachutes in airplanes would probably only save one person per crash. He answered, "But wouldn't he be just tickled!" 

 10. I have worked with the dying, and have come into intensive care units to find beds empty that yesterday contained a friend. Sometimes it was because he'd died during the night. Sometimes it was because she went home well. No one, but no one, knows how long they have to live, whether sick or not. 

Make the most of the time you've got.

Copyright  C  2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. Revisions copyright 2019.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )



Andrew W. Saul


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