Medical Providers help ease symptoms through Palliative Care

Published: Nov. 28, 2016 at 3:48 AM CST
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Hospice and Palliative get lumped under the same category, but many don’t know the difference between the two.

More than 1 million people in the United States use the services every year. Hospice is reserved for keeping those with six months or less to live comfortable. Palliative aims to ease the side effects of chronic disease.

Tim Patterson was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease in 2011. Due to the heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, and nerve pain that comes along with it, he was left missing the things he use to do.

“If you know you use to do that same thing all the time, and now you’re cut off, that’s what really really hurts,” Patterson said.

He and his wife Kathy were told it was a slow process, so they looked into options for the pain. That’s when their doctor recommended palliative care. Now he has team to help him manage all of the things that come along with his disease.

“For me as the spouse or the supportive person, I’ve had so much comfort in knowing this team is available for us in helping to care with Tim because I fully realize I can’t take care of him myself,” Kathy Patterson said. “It’s allowed me to hang in there for five years. It’s allowed me to know that he was getting the best care possible and I’m feeling very grateful for that.”

“If I can keep comfortable that’s all I’m asking. What time I have left, I’d just like to do it as pain free as possible. That’s why they are so very important to me,” Tim said.

Unity Point Health Palliative Nurse Brook Sternberg said she answers the question ‘What is Palliative?” every day.

“Really our biggest goal in palliative care is to focus on quality of life,” Sternberg said. “How do we best care for you, and really kind of getting down to those specifics with patients and families, by establishing those goals and then we kind of know how to best treat them going forward.”

Patterson’s team and his wife will be there every step of the way during his journey.

“Love is looking at what you’re dealing with, communicating with your spouse about his wishes, and then doing the best you can to make that happen for him,” Patterson said.