I was asked to speak to the patient’s son. His mother was unwell and deteriorating. Her son was not medically trained but was forthright in his opinions. He thought his mother had simple constipation and all she needed was simple laxatives. He was more than assertive in his requests for treatment, taking a more directional approach.
“Look, I’m not telling you what to do, but…”
“Actually, you are telling me what to do. I need to tell you what I need to do for your mother. She’s very unwell, and is not just constipation going on. I think she has a bowel obstruction caused by the cancer. It is causing severe pain, nausea and vomiting. I am very worried about her. I have seen her condition worsening every day. I don’t think she is going to get better.”
“You mean she won’t recover?”
“She is trying her best to do so, but I think she probably won’t be able to. She’s too unwell.”
“What can you do for her?”
“We can try to make her more comfortable. We’re going to have to use injectable medications as I’m worried she won’t be able to swallow soon. Do you have any questions?”
“No, please do your best for my mother. She raised us all, and she always worked so hard. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. Please look after her. “