As important as cancer research is, it seems to me that keeping people — especially very old people — free from pain is more important still. Obama said in his state of the union address the United States should cure cancer once and for all. Yes, but helping people who suffer unbearable pain would be better yet.
The common practice seems to be to ration pain medicine to avoid overdoses or, God forbid, cause addiction. So we’re supposed to accept that it’s better to have people moaning and crying out because they cannot stand the punishment their bodies are handing them? Why not another dose? Or a bigger one? What’s to be gained by not stopping the pain once and for all?
It’s understandable that various providers don’t want the responsibility — or the lawsuits — that addiction or overdoses might entail. The solution would be to put patients in charge of their own pain management in all cases where nothing else seems to work. Give them something to push or squeeze, and as long as they hurt they can push or squeeze it until the pain stops. Regardless of the outcome otherwise, the big and only goal would be to stop the pain.
Maybe this is not the kind of thing a president can talk about in a speech, but it’s something that’s more important than anything else when you can’t do anything to help someone you love who is lying there in pain. (hh)