Thursday, January 29, 2015

Treatment Choices

medical choices life's a polyp

Individuals share a vast depth of life views of varying degrees that include differences of opinions and needs regarding medical decisions and choices. I find this to be the beauty of the human experience. We have been given the gift of free will and decision making.

So in medical situations, how do we know what the right treatment choice is?

With any medical diagnosis we are typically presented with treatment choices and we must decide what is the best choice for us. Even when all factors are the same among individuals, a particular treatment option may not be the best choice for another individual.

Life experiences, spiritual beliefs, world views, prognosis and current health all contribute to the medical decision making of an individual. There is a lot to take into consideration to determine the best option for a particular person. It's common to see others within the health groups asking about others experiences with various treatment options for FAP as they debate the options provided by the doctors. Learning about the experiences of others, knowing what to expect with each treatment option is a great way to gain more information than a doctor is able to provide.

I didn't know anyone else outside of my family with FAP when I was a newly diagnosed child. I don't think the different treatment options of ostomy, jpouch, straight pull thru, etc. were discussed with me. I was 8 and I can understand why I wouldn't have been included in the discussion. However, as I grew I regularly inquired regarding other treatment options to reverse the ostomy I had been left with after serious complications courtesy of my surgeon. My quest for a different solution was understood by my doctor and when the opportunity to give it a try became available, my doctor and my parents left the decision to me. I was 14 when I started preparation for an ostomy reversal with a straight pull thru. I knew the risks, a reversal may not be possible and with any surgery there are always risks of death or other complications. Fortunately for me, my parents and my doctor respected my desire and my need to take the risk. A reversal was all I wanted, it was all I had thought of for the previous 6 years. I think my doctor and my parents realized the depth of my anguish and despair, I had to take this risk or I would never be happy not trying. Following a successful reversal, I was faced with several years of torture trying to maintain my straight pull thru due to adhesions. There were times I was ready to stop the fight for life. There were times when I knew my body was about to give out on me and I said my goodbyes to my parents. I survived through it all though.

And when I look back, I wonder...if I had said to stop the fight and let me rest, would my wishes have been respected? Would I have been given the same respect and support I needed for my previous medical decision if I had made the treatment choice of not receiving treatment?

I hope my parents and my doctor would have respected my wishes. I believe everyone has a point when too much is too much to ask anymore and a person knows what that limit is when the limit is being reached. I believe in freely making our own decisions and respecting that.

I am filled with terror, mental paralysis, and I experience a rapid heart rate with the mere thought of being forced to undergo a medical treatment I did not choose, like the young lady court ordered to receive chemotherapy. I've spoken about a very dear, close friend of mine who committed suicide due to his experiences with Fibromyalgia and Ulcerative Colitis. I wish that he hadn't taken his life, I miss him everyday and I will forever cherish the time we shared and memories of him. I, however, cannot be angry with him, I cannot resent him for his choice. I wish his choice had been different and I wish we all could have helped him more. But I understand the desperation, anguish, and pain that he must have been experiencing that he tucked away. And because I understand, I can't do anything but miss him and wish I could change it all for him. I am not by any means saying that had I been aware of his decision to commit suicide that I would have encouraged him to do so. I'm simply saying, I understood his struggle. And that's something everyone benefits from, to be understood.

I've been blessed with fairly stable health over the last few years and I hope this will continue. When my health changes once again, I'm not sure what choices I will be faced with or what choices I will make. All I know is that there are choices that I don't want for various health conditions and I am counting on my wishes to be respected. I completed an Advanced Directive with detailed instructions pertaining to my wishes many years ago and I regularly discuss my medical wishes with my family.

Medical decisions are never easy and living with those decisions isn't always easy either. There will always be risks and side effects of any medical decision we choose. We have to know what we believe is the right choice for us.

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