Friday, March 30, 2012

I chose death over diarrhea

Let's say I have colon cancer.  Here are my options.

Surgery A
Chance cured without complication 80%
Cured with colostomy 1%
Cured with chronic diarrhea 1%
Cured with intermittent bowel obstruction 1%
Cured with wound infection 1%
No cure (death) 16%

Surgery B
Chance cured without complication 80%
No cure (death) 20%

Without any time for consideration, I chose Surgery B.  Death over Diarrhea.

"Why?" the speaker at the Medical Decision Making talk I was attending asked the few of us who selected Surgery B.

For whatever reason when I thought about me having colon cancer I imagine I'm old.
Not that I know anything about age incidence and colon cancer.
And of course my children are financially independent and my life insurance and estate will be my parting gifts.

A bunch of stuff might be medically wrong with me at that age anyway.

And while it sounds dark, death is a certainty at some point.

If I die in surgery B I won't care.  I'm dead.  I can't care.

Both surgeries come with a possibility of survival and a possibility of death.  More chance I get cured than not.  I also have a notion that because something highly unlikely medically already happened to me I've paid my dues.  I understand this isn't an accurate notion at all.  But I have it nonetheless.

Something about Surgery B seems braver to me.   I've not really thought much about old lady Jamie but I would like to think she's brave.  Then again, I think about life with the aforementioned complications.  I would probably find humor in them because, well, I would have to.

As the speaker continues to talk I wonder if I'm kidding myself.

Would I really prefer death over diarrhea?

No comments: