Quality of life vs Quantity of life

Which would you choose?

Ma’s has many health issues including Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis which cause her lots of pain sometime to the point of her crying with it. Two frozen shoulders and when she moves you can hear the bone grating on bone.  Over the years she has been on more pain medications than a junkie. Strong medications with opioids such as morphine and other nasties as well as an anti-inflammatory. They have been the only reason she has been able to function.  She can’t dress or do much for herself as she can’t lift her arms very far.

When the kidney stones were discovered early this year she was taken off her anti-inflammatory because of the risk to her kidneys.  After three surgeries to remove the stones (yep, it took three goes as she was riddled with them) she descended into a delirium which has improved but remains with her so that her doctor and I now think she has dementia.   This has meant that her pain medications have been decreased due to the affects they have on her confused state.  Her pain has increased to the point where it is affecting her confusion and her mobility.  We have stairs, so getting her up and down these has become a major challenge.

We visited a rheumatologist in the hopes of getting her some pain relief.   She tried a cortisonne injection which didn’t give her much relief and sent her into a delirium for 48 hours (I think).  She is now also on a medication that ‘turns the nerves down’ so that the pain becomes less.  (If you read the side affects from that, you’d never use it on the elderly!).  We talked about putting her back on the ani-inflammatory.  The rheumatologist talked about quality of life and referred us to a Urologist for his opinion on putting Ma back on the anti-inflammatory.

The Urologist was very reluctant to put Ma back on the anti-inflammatory but in the end came to the conclusion that Ma needed quality of life and at the moment she wasn’t getting it due to the pain she was suffering from.  He also said that there probably wasn’t another doctor that would agree with what he was doing.

He asked her how she felt about dying from kidney failure and whether she was concerned about it.  She told him, “I’m 84 years of age (she is actually 88) and I’m a firm believer of what will be, will be.”  With that, she was sent on her way with a script for anti-inflammatorys.  You could tell the doctor wasn’t happy but that he couldn’t see any alternatives.  She will be closley monitored with blood and urine tests in two weeks and probably monthly thereafter if no damage is detected.

Within 24 hours her pain had improved and she hasn’t had any strong pain killers in nearly a week just her regular Panadol Osteo.  She has also been brighter in herself, moving better and was able to make it up and down the stairs without too much trouble.  I’m hoping this will continue.

So, which would you chose?  I’m sure I would have made the same decision.  To see her with pain relief and being much brighter is a gift.


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