Views & Reviews

Life is for living

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 24 November 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2529

Five years ago I “lost” my husband when he had a brain haemorrhage, but as a result of medical intervention I can still visit him in his caring nursing home. With treatment for his various problems he is usually not distressed or in pain. He is no longer angry at his plight, but in place of a lucid analytical mind he is “sans everything”—with a familiar voice. Fortunately, he no longer has insight into his condition and rarely worries about his future. However, when I consider his situation and then hear about other types of patient who are denied drugs that may improve the quality of their life but that the NHS is not prepared to fund, I question the balance of its and our values and priorities.

I wrote about Michael (not his real name) in the BMJ in June 2004 (2004;328:1445, doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7453.1445) a year after a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube had been placed in him without my consent, against his family’s wishes, and despite the guidelines published in the Lancet …

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