Dying to live
Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/4/2020, midnight
Life is precious. In fact, as we well know, life is no dress rehearsal. Therefore, squeeze out of it all you can live and let live.
Often, I have heard the statement at a funeral, “Well, at least he (or she) is no longer suffering, and is now resting.” As far as I am concerned, no one should die while suffering, especially because of pain. A host of medications are available to put patients at ease, affording them the pleasure of their loved ones who may be visiting them.
It seems that doctors are not taking patients’ pain seriously. Often I have heard physicians say that they are concerned that addiction may follow extensive use of painkillers. Hey, if a patient is terminal, who can worry about addiction? It is more important to me that the patient is comfortable. A pain-free patient eats better and enjoys a good night’s rest.
Every minute of life is meaningful to the people who are dying, and they are dying to live but just don’t have the strength to even whisper it to those taking care of them.
While practicing medicine, I have had many patients die at home, and I made sure that they were comfortable until the end. The families of these patients appreciated that kind of care. Often I encouraged the family to purchase videos that were soothing to the soul of the patient. It is important for the patients to hear the music that they loved in life. Hospitals often cannot accommodate these kinds of extended-life pleasures. I have suggested that the families bring a CD player to the bedside.
Whether a patient is hospitalized or at home, personal care should be taken seriously. A daily massage with aromatic oil lends to comfort and relaxation. Cleansing the mouth with glycerin swabs refreshes the mouth to receive food. Bathing hands and feet refreshes the total body. In fact, just plain touching the patient with love makes a difference. Always remember, the patient is dying to live.
Corinthians 2:5 states, “For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on Earth—is torn down, God will have a house in Heaven for us to live in, a home he himself made, which will last forever. And now we sigh, so great is our desire to have our home which is in Heaven put on over us; for by being clothed with it we shall not be found without a body. While we live in this Earthly tent we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our Earthly body, but that we want to have the Heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and He gave us His spirit as the guarantee of all that He has for us. So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in this body we are away from the Lord’s home. For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.”
The patient’s mental and physical well-being should be tended to as if they are dying to live in this life and after.
I leave you with the beautiful hymn written by Alfred H. Ackley, “He Lives.”
I serve a risen Savior, he’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever foes may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.