Skip and friends...
At first I was not going to write about this because I do not want to
bring any more unnecessary pain to the family involved, but I really feel
like I need to share this with you all. There is a BIG lesson to be learned
This past Friday, my friend's father passed away. He has been ill,
diagnosed with cancer... but it was NOT the cancer that killed him.
He was a strong man- born in Eastern Europe, he overcame tremendous odds
and knew how to deal with adversity. He survived communism, he survived war;
overcame economic crisis, and other tragedy... he was NOT weak. He took his
family and immigrated to the Unites States so that they might have a chance
at THRIVING-- at LIVING. And they did just that. He was a very successful
family and business man here in the States. He was the foundation of the
family. And he was enjoying now his grandchildren and was even (in his 60's)
taking on bicycling as a recreation. And then he was diagosed with cancer.
Now... we all tend to believe that CANCER PATIENTS are treated more
appropriately-- that THEY will be kept comfortable no matter what. That the
diagnosis of cancer gives them some sort of "rights" to decent healthcare
and pain control...Well, if we believe this, we are all DEAD WRONG.
Because, as a DIRECT EFFECT of inadequate medical care- and VERY
INADEQUATE PAIN MANAGEMENT ... he TOOK HIS OWN LIFE!
-- and YES he even had insurance-- I'm not mentioning names, but we all know
of it--- CROSS my heart- and we'd all think that the "approved" providers
[doctors] would be TRUE to their oath)-somebody BLUE smoke in some eyes,
He was ushered out of ER's, told that, "You have cancer, sir... you are
just going to have to LIVE WITH THE SYMPTOMS"... he went from doctor to
doctor that were on the insurance plan... and he was told similar things. He
then went to physicians OFF the "list" and told them he would pay CASH... he
just wanted to be TREATED... they said that they "could not" treat him.
He was in a TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF PAIN...DAY IN AND DAY OUT... and to say
that his PAIN MANAGEMENT WAS INADEQUATE would be an UNDERSTATEMENT... and
THIS A CANCER PATIENT!!!
He tried INSISTING that they treat him... and it fell upon DEAF EARS.
WHY??? WHO, in this KNOWN pain-UNfriendly state, would be SO AFRAID as to
NOT TREAT A MAN DYING OF PANCREATIC CANCER who was suffering so horribly???
Well-- I guess a LOT of doctors were unwilling.
This saddens me in ways I cannot even express. This man COULD be
managed... he was NOT end-stage yet! But, he had to travel some 30 miles to
a neighboring town's ER who would AT LEAST give him IV's to REHYDRATE HIM
(the local hospital claimed that they would NO LONGER DO THAT even-- WE ARE
TALKING ELECTROLYTES HERE--FLUIDS!!!) Imagine the PAIN this man suffered.
Being a "pain patient" myself, I KNOW full well the desperation that
untreated, unrelenting pain brings. I have myself experienced 'suicidal
levels of pain', and I have been "shrugged" as well...But I do NOT, CAN NOT
fathom what it must have felt like to be him. And, in a moment of sheer
torture, he decided to end it all, himself.
He did NOT plan this, he was NOT depressed or suicidal! HE WAS IN PAIN,
and no one would help him. He wrote a note to his loved ones, and went into
the garage, and shot himself. To that poor man, in unimaginable pain, it was
the ONLY WAY to rid him, and his loved family, of the terrible burdon.
I feel guilty and condemned as well. I am close with his daughter. I was
her birth coach when her baby was born and one of the few friends of hers
that this tough-as-nails-on-the outside but sweet-marshmallow-on-the-inside
man approved of. He was SO protective!
And-- I feel that I let him down, let them ALL down... because I KNOW he
did NOT have to LIVE and DIE that way!
I DID send him pages of e-mails --
and ASKED him to PLEASE PLEASE visit this site... but now, I feel so bad-- I
should have helped out a little more. I simply did not recognize the LEVEL
of despair. I KNEW ASAP and the COMPASSIONATE DOCTORS could help him! But--
I should have insisted more.
I HAD THE KEY...
Skip, please pass this letter on to the other chronic pain patients
here. (I know it is long, sorry) We ALL have the information THAT CAN HELP
SAVE A LIFE... please, everyone--reach out.
Sure, I told him-- but he was so miserable-- I NEEDED TO HELP him
perhaps, just a little nudge further-- he was being STOMPED on by the
medical community at EVERY TURN... so, my words, my e-mail, just were not
And, looking back- I will NEVER EVER forget the look in his eyes the
last time I saw him... a man in wrenching pain... covering it, as usual, to
be strong for everyone else. And a man who NEEDED something that I HAD.
I cannot guarantee that he would be here this moment if I had helped him
get the care he needed, he had a strong will and I do not know fully his
mindset. But-- he wasn't a depressed, suicidal man. He was simply a cancer
patient who was slipping through the chasm of untreated pain, alone.
So... perhaps his death was NOT for "nothing", because there is a STRONG
message here. For ALL of us, painers or not.
***IF YOU KNOW THAT SOMEONE IS IN PAIN...WHETHER IT SHOWS OR
NOT...WHETHER IT IS CANCER OR NOT...WHETHER THEY ARE CRYING OUT FOR HELP OR
NOT...GET THEM THE INFORMATION THAT THEY NEED TO BE TREATED
ADEQUATELY...WHETHER THEY SEEM STRONG ENOUGH TO DO IT THEMSELVES, OR
Ask how they are, listen and try to "read between the lines" a little--
I honestly believe that he simply DID NOT BELIEVE that the pain would ever
But... THERE IS HELP AND HOPE... and people-- WE know where that help
is! Skip has brought it to our eyes, and WE need to pass it on! Let us be
INSIGHTFUL, caring, PERSISTENT, and brave enough to empower others as well,
before it is too late for another victim of untreated pain.