Wednesday, 5 August 2009

feeling helpless

i have a new example of feeling helpless. let me put a hypothetical situation to you. someone you know is having chest pains. this person has a history of similar chest pains, but when all possible tests were done, no defect was found in the heart. the person has been looking after their health, exercising, eating carefully and having regular check-ups.

but there are these chest pains. they've been going on for some hours, they are clearly causing some discomfort. but the person refuses to see a doctor. no amount of nagging or pleading makes a difference. being an adult, this person can't be bundled into a car and forced to get treatment.

so, what options are there? it's a condition that may or may not be serious. just because nothing had turned up in the past, doesn't mean that this particular incident isn't life-threatening. but if a person refuses to seek medical treatment, what exactly can family and friends do? this is a serious question, cos i really don't know what the options are here.


Phil said...

Pray for them. (just a suggestion)

Are the pains anxiety-induced, perhaps? Could the sufferer be persuaded to try meditation or relaxation exercises, e.g. deep-breathing, yoga, stretching.

Perhaps visualisation techniques. Imagine calm soothing scenes. Imagine the pains slowly melting or dissolving away.

Perhaps massage (although be careful around the chest area - wouldn't want to aggravate their condition if there is an underlying physical cause). Foot massage can help relax the entire body.

Perhaps rest or lots of sleep is needed?

p.s. I'm not medically trained, so heed my advice with some caution. I am a person of faith, so I do recommend prayer. Either alone, or with the person suffering, or in a group.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Maybe try to convince them to call Healthline, or to let you call Healthline for them, and ask for advice? It should be easier than getting them to go the emergency services. I've not used the service myself, but I think it's a good idea -- it can be difficult to judge whether or not a symptom requires urgent attention; even if the matter's trivial, the peace of mind afforded from actually knowing that there's no reason to worry (as the case may be) is not.


Amnion said...

I'd call the ambulance. If they won't budge at least ambulance officers may be persuasive, they can do a heart trace, they can bring oxygen and cardiac drugs. They can say they think this is a worrying picture, if it is.

How often has it happened? How old is the person? What are the characteristics of the pain? Does it happen at rest? Or on exertion? Does it make them breathless? Where do they feel it? Where does it travel to? If it is recurrent chest pain they should probably have an exercise tolerance test looking at their ECG. If an exercise tolerance test is negative it probably isn't cardiac pain.

stargazer said...

thanx everyone for the comments, really appreciate it. especially the healthline & ambulance comments are particularly helpful. my own assumptions about calling an ambulance was that they wouldn't be any help if the person refused to go with them to the hospital, but knwoing that they can do a lot of other stuff on the scene is good.

i'm also wondering what are legal rights/responsibilities towards a person who refuses to get treatment. i know that if you refuse to get treatment for your child, this is a criminal offence, so any third person has the power of the state behind them if they try to intervene to access medical help. but if you refuse to get treatment for yourself? can any third person intervene, and to what extent? and i'm thinking of an intervention that falls short of using the mental health act & hence having to call in the police.

stargazer said...

oops, and i meant to add that prayer is very helpful for me as well. not a substitute for action, but still very helpful in maintaining calm!

Principessa said...

This is going to sound somewhat silly but I'm going to share anyway because who knows.

I suffer from chest pain a lot because of anxiety, and a few weeks ago I had intense chest pain and started to really worry about what impact my anxiety was having given the intensity of the chest pain.

I tried everything I could to calm myself and thought I was relaxed but the chest pain stayed the same.

I had been eating alot of Sushi covered in soy sauce, and washing it all down with Coca Cola. After a while I realised that my chest pain got worse after I had lunch.

The next day I ordered my Sushi without soy and got juice instead of coke.

The chest pain went away- turned out it was heart burn/indegestion problem likely from the soy and the caffeine in the coke can't have helped either.

Principessa said...

Another thing I've thought of- have a look at the way this person is sleeping. Do they have good support for their head and back. Chest Pain can be about your posture and your chest muscles being swollen- maybe you could convince this person to see a Physio instead of a doctor- would that be less threatening?

Hugh said...


if you refuse to get treatment for yourself? can any third person intervene, and to what extent?

Short answer - no, they can't. Any doctor who administered medicine to a patient without their consent would very quickly lose their job and possibly go to jail. Surgery without the patient's consent is considered assault, and even an examination would probably be frowned upon.

Boganette said...

My grandfather got sick a few weeks ago and refused to see a doctor. I rang the healthline and got info from them then I rang his GP to let him know I was concerned and then I rang the local pharmacy. I ordered and paid for Tamiflu for him (he had the swiney) and he took the Tamiflu simply because it would be a 'waste of money' not to take it. I also got the healthline to ring him to tell him when he needed to go to the hospital (as in if it got worse).

He's pretty stubborn. The only way I can deal with him is if I do everything myself.

If you pay for everything and sort it all out they pretty much have no choice but to do it. But each to their own. I mean I'm super bossy so everyone expects that kind of 'behaviour' from me.

Good luck. I hope it all works out ok for you.

Oh and I threatened calling an ambulance. That worked well too. Especially if the person 'doesn't like a fuss' like my grandfather. I even pretended to dial.

stargazer said...

awesome strategy bogannette. yup, i can do bossy, only too well sometimes!