IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST
By DR. JOSE PUJALTE, JR.
“Adios, queridoss eres, morir es descansar”
(Farewell to all I love; to die is to rest)
— Jose Rizal (1861-1896) Philippines national hero
“Mi Ultimo Adios” (1896)
Johns Hopkins University is tracking the COVID-19 pandemic (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html) The case fatality rate of the Philippines is 4.06% which is lower than the world average of 5.22%. Still, it is “seeing worse numbers compared to the ASEAN average of 2.89%”. As I write this, the number of COVID-19 cases has breached 1M (1,015,403) and 53,030 people have died. The US predicts that 100,000-200,000 Americans will die from complications of this new virus. The truth is, the worst is not over.
If you are dying but lucid enough to think, please read this.
The American Journal of Nursing (Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins) published a bill of rights for dying patients but it can be found in this website Support4Change (http://www.support4change.com/).
The Dying Patient’s Bill of Rights
- I have the right to be treated as a living human being until I die.
- I have the right to maintain a sense of hopefulness however changing its focus may be.
- I have the right to be cared for by those who can maintain a sense of hopefulness, however changing this might be.
- I have the right to express my feelings and emotions about my approaching death in my own way.
- I have the right to participate in decisions concerning my care.
- I have the right to expect continuing medical and nursing attention even though “cure” goals must be changed to “comfort” goals.
- I have the right not to die alone. I have the right to be free from pain.
- I have the right to have my questions answered honestly.
- I have the right not to be deceived.
- I have the right to have help from and for my family in accepting my death.
- I have the right to die in peace and dignity.
- I have the right to retain my individuality and not be judged for my decisions which may be contrary to beliefs of others.
- I have the right to discuss and enlarge my religious and/or spiritual experiences, whatever these may mean to others.
- I have the right to expect that the sanctity of the human body will be respected after death.
- I have the right to be cared for by caring, sensitive, knowledgeable people who will attempt to understand my needs and will be able to gain some satisfaction in helping me face death.
Partner in Dying. Sometimes this is exactly what a patient wants – to be able to plan for death with everyone in the family, especially when death is inescapable or imminent (in chronic and catastrophic conditions like cancer). Well-meaning loved ones might not even want to tell the patient that he or she is dying. But here is something almost certain: a person knows when he or she is dying – without being told. Maybe talking about dying is the first step of letting go. And in the time of COVID-19, the reality of dying has just crept up.
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