CULTURAL ASPECTS OF PAIN: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP

Surgeons also sometimes play a game which is seemingly interminable: ‘If in doubt, cut it out’. Alternatively: ‘A chance to cut is a chance to cure’.But, there are also many surgeons who agree with those medical schools that teach that surgery is an admission of defeat and should only be seen as a last resort.

Before submitting to the knife, you should be certain the doctor has satisfactorily answered the following questions:

1. Why is the operation necessary?

2. What are the risks of complications, including death?

3. What are the risks without surgery? Are there alternative methods of treatment?

4. What are the chances that the surgery will achieve its aim? Surgery can never be undone. While a surgeon may cite a 75 per cent success rate, the other 25 per cent of failures sometimes develop long-standing problems that did not exist before!

The following poem is taken from The Pain Game by Dr C. Norman Shealy: There was a crooked man Who walked a crooked style He saw an orthopaedist Who sinisterly smiled. Ahah! I have the answer, Your problem is quite clear I diagnose a bulging disc We’ll remove it, have no fear. The surgery was ended The doctor got his fee And now the disc that was removed Is causing pain around the knee. So that crooked man who still had Pain and strife

Became another victim of a well-intended knife.

Information important for understanding

Closely allied with the ‘It’s all in your head!’ game is the implication, sometimes spoken quite frankly: ‘You’re too stupid to understand!’ Trading on this basis, doctors can excuse many of their own failures. They will fail to explain to a patient the risks of surgery or any other treatment, or the alternatives available.

*52\37\8*

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