Many days Patrick Davis feels like the walking wounded. His feet in particular were a source of pain.
“I had neuropathy as a result of failed back surgeries and radiation treatment I had for my lung cancer,” says Davis.
A doctor referred him to palliative care, a team-based approach to caring for people with life-threatening illnesses.
“To me, palliative care is an extra layer of support as they go through their traditional treatments,” says Dr. Andrew Esch, palliative care specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Traditionally medicine focused on the primary health issue, which left a gap in patient care. Palliative treatment considers the person as a whole and treats them that way.
“We can treat the cancer, we can treat the heart failure, we can treat dementia but we always haven’t been good at treating the whole person, meeting their needs outside of the illness. We’ve been good at treating illness and lousy at treating people and I think palliative care brings those two worlds together,” says Dr. Esch.
Focusing more attention on the patient needs while they’re getting life-sustaining treatment. Davis case required a ‘personal’ touch.
Each week he visits an acupuncturist who places needles around his head and body, adding a dose of Eastern medicine.
“This will last me a good week before I have to come back- and the relaxation, I’ll sleep tonight like a baby,” says Davis.
“The benefit that derives from it, gives me the satisfaction. It is not business as usual,” says Bee Lin Lim, acupuncturist.
Pain management is a key component, along with helping to communicate between the patients treating physicians and addressing social issues.
“What’s going to make their journey through this illness more tolerable? What’s going to improve their quality of life as they go through this and that’s what we strive for,” says Dr. Esch.
By putting the pal in palliative care.