Saturday, March 28, 2009

birds and pain

on the rehab side, have just read an interesting blog post by Dr Dolittler on pain and the use of NSAIDs and/or other drugs for pain relief. It's a subject that intrigues me particularly, because the views for humans and animals seem so diametrically opposed.

Human medicine seems to be focussed on prolonging life at all costs. I know, having seen a much loved aunt go through years of treatment for a non-curable cancer, that the quality of the life that is prolonged doesn't seem to be an issue with many doctors. She went from being a woman with so much caring and warmth for everyone, to a shrew from hell, depending on how much pain she was in, and the pain lasted for months at a time until she was hospitalised for hugely expensive and short-lasting treatments. But she trusted and respected her oncologist so much that she didn't want to hurt or disappoint him by saying that she had had enough. And so she suffered on for years, so that he could write journal articles on how he was managing her care.

Veterinary medicine on the other hand seems to have far more practitioners who value the quality of life. Perhaps it is because humans will almost always have a longer lifespan than their animal companions, perhaps it is because human doctors are legislated out of offering a similar level of compassion. I'd rather give the animals I love the best possible life for as long as that is achievable. And when it isn't, then I am able to gift them with the most comfortable death possible.

I wish that the same choices could be available for people.

However...the good doc's post is on the use of NSAIDs and other pain relief in vet practice. If you are interested in animal care at all, it's worth reading, especially the comments. I'm a definite believer in palliative care for animals, and in the rehab work I see, we have seen the benefits for mammals. Pain relief for birds though is a less-accepted or studied topic. We use homeopathic remedies such as Rescue Remedy and Traumeel on almost all our injured or stressed patients, and where more traumatic injuries are involved, we use small doses of pain-relief. Pain causes stress. Stress causes death. Or at least, that is our view, but it is one not always shared by vets and other avian specialists.

Anyway, the link is Dr Dolittler - if you have an opinion on this, let me know?

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