John and Jane Doe are married.

Jane Doe goes to the Doctor for her annual check up and finds out she has a disease. She makes appointments with specialists and reads up on the illness. She finds a Doctor that she likes and is confident with the treatment plan that is put before her.

John Doe is not a Doctor. John Doe has never had this illness, nor know much about it. John Doe does some internet searching and determines that he likes a different course of treatment. He wants Jane Doe to do something other than what she likes.

Is it HER life and choice?

OR

Is it THEIR life and choice?

How much say does your spouse have in a medical decision and course of treatment?

Once you have discussed the options with your partner, and family if wanted, how much do you take other people’s feeling/wishes into account?

Do you choose a course of action you’re not comfortable with to please your partner?

How much does your partner matter in the decision making regarding your course of treatment?

Is the expectation that the decision should be made as a unit? Or should it be made by the individual undergoing the treatment?

Does John Doe have the right to be disappointed if Jane Doe doesn’t listen to him regarding her treatment?

How much should John Doe push Jane Doe into doing what he wants?

Does your opinion change at all if John and Jane Doe are not married, but just living together?

What does being a partner mean if one is ill?

Disclaimer: This is a hypothetical situation and is NOT happening to me. I’m just trying to get a handle on the topic we’ve been discussing as to how partners treat and respect one another, and how we handle expectations and disappointment, and obviously, agree or disapgree on things.

65 thoughts on “Whose Life is it Anyway….

  1. More than thrice my wife has faced serious health treatments, and it has always been entirely her choice on who, where and how she gets treatment, second opinions everything. We are different people and handle news differently, treatments etc but are committed to be there for each other in every possible way.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Personally, I agree with you one billion percent. But I didn’t know if I was being short sighted,so I wanted to get some opinions to see if I was missing something in my thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that the spouse/partner should respect the wishes of their spouse.
    When my husband faced heart surgery, it was his decision to have this done at Canada’s well-known Heart Institute in Ottawa. We lived there until he completely recovered.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Are there actually people who do this to this degree? This has me all curious. I think in our situation it’s up to the patient but we’d dialogue back and forth, leaving the ultimate choice to the patient.

    Glad you put that disclaimer on the bottom though, sheesh, gave me a heart attack. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Between you and me, and whoever reads the comments…my FIL is doing this to his gf….I can’t even imagine……but I needed to take a step back and see if I was just looking at it too rigidly….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patient choice for sure. Of course the partner and/or family has their own opinions, and if the patient is intelligent and caring will listen and consider those along with the medical opinions. Trying to coerce someone into believing or agreeing to something they don’t want will only cause mores stress and resentment no matter the outcome for the patient.
    Ultimately, no matter how hard it may be for others, patient choice is the only choice.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think that as the family member we might be driven to push or apply the layers of guilt onto the patient in the hopes that they come around to what we want. Perhaps intentional, perhaps not but either way not a good way to go about weighing options and coming to the right decision… for the patient.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s her choice. She has to make the decision that she feels will provide the best possible outcome. I could argue that if she were to follow his advice even though she was dubious as to its merits, that she wasn’t being true to them. Because she has to believe the treatment will carry her through, for the both of them. She doesn’t want to leave him alone, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Partners should have some input. What if the ill person’s doctor is wrong or not seeing all the possibilities? The legal act of being “married” shouldn’t make a difference, but whether this is a long-term relationship, especially if there are children, would matter. The couple’s fact-finding results ideally should be combined to come up with the best options. That might not always be workable, however. When it comes right down to it, the body belongs to the ill person, and they should have the last say. The partner certainly has the right to feel any way they want (disappointed, angry, etc.), but everyone involved has feelings to manage!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Technically, it’s her choice since it’s her diagnosis. However……if they are married and value the relationship bond between them, it’s a decision that needs to be discussed since it affects both of them. There are too many unanswered questions surrounding this scenario. Percentage of recovery from treatment, expected life span, logistics surrounding how he would live life if she was not there, worldviews regarding quality of life, etc. Yes, this is happening to her, but he will also be experiencing it as well to some extent. In the end, it goes back to the type of relationship they have. Perhaps she should be open to an alternate treatment and the both weigh the pros and cons. Happy to hear this is not stemming from a personal issue with your health. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Whew! Glad this is not you. I was nervous as I read. Prickly subject. Ultimately, we have the power and responsibility to make decisions about our health. In a partnership, one should listen respectfully to the other and, if the choice is not to follow the partner’s advice, say so clearly and kindly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I fully believe that if you are in a long term, healthy, committed relationship (legally binding or not), your partner gets some input. Meaning honest discussions including opinions, facts and perspectives are shared and considered on both sides and a decision is then made together based on those conversations. That said, the ultimate decision should always belong to the person getting treated. Granted, this is the ideal and ideals don’t always match reality. If it ended up that the partners never could come up with an agreement, a situation like this is big enough and impactful enough to cause major harm to the relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, but this is such a sticky situation all around and, no matter the subject, always will be when it comes to relationships because it will always be about more than just one person.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting post. Having been both an ER and ICU nurse for many years I am firm that it is the patients choice and it is up to them if they want spouse involvement. Looking at this from
    a healthcare perspective I probably have a different mindset. Not better or worse, just different. Too many times I have seen patients make the best decision for them and then get talked into another treatment plan by spouse or other family members. I have seen them regret this too. I have also had spouses want me to take their side and “convince” the patient the spouse’s idea is better. I never played that game. I have also seen patients who make decisions on their own or with support from their partners and this alway seemed to be better for the patient. I believe in honest communication and finding out up front if the spouse is to be involved in medical decision making. I do believe seeing all sides is beneficial. I also believe the patient should always get a second and third opinion from providers then they have different healthcare plans to choose from. Not all providers follow the same regime and it is important to be well informed of options. Personally I would want to discuss all of this with my husband for his input as well. There are many people who choose to decide on their own and that’s their prerogative. I suppose a lot depends on the couples dynamics before the disease process is diagnosed. Basically it comes down to patients choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. As with most above, I agree it is always the ill person’s choice. Certainly discussing treatment openly with one’s partner is optimal. And the partner has a right to be disappointed, but no right to apply pressure.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I feel that since I’m currently going through chemo and fighting stage three ovarian cancer right now, I can comment on this subject honestly and objectively. My gynecological oncologist is excellent. He doesn’t pull any punches, yet he’s caring and gives me his undivided attention while being honest about my treatment. While my spouse is now deceased, my grown sons are actively involved in my treatment. Both listened to my doctor explain my situation. I asked him what would happen if I didn’t do chemo. He said I’d have approximately 6 months to live. With chemo he could shrink my tumors, do surgery and then do 3/more chemos. He said he could definitely give me a few more years since this kind of cancer responds well to treatment. However, it is not a curable disease and often returns, but it can be put in remission for a time. My choice was to do chemo now. My children agreed. I can’t tell you how many people now keep telling me stories about alternative options. They don’t know or understand my kind of cancer and the amount of tumors I have, yet they think they know more than my doctor who is a surgeon from Yale who does both robotic and traditional surgery. One son would wants me to keep this up if my cancer returns. The other respects what’re my choices are. I told them both I’m going the distance, assuming I’ll go into remission. But if it returns would I go through all this again? I don’t know. It’s hell. I’m 70 and chemo is difficult. At 75/or 80 I doubt I’d do the chemo again if I’m not strong enough. NOBODY can tell anyone what to do with their body. NOBODY! My mom at age 76 did one round of chemo and said no more. My late mother in law was 80 and did one chemo and said forget this! No husband or child has the right to tell anyone how to handle their illness. I’ve chosen to fight. My 4th chemo is next week and then surgery. It’s MY choice. I understand that others want to help. But ultimately the patient and their doctor have to make choices that work for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. First off…sending you love, and whatever else gets you through the day! Secondly, I agree. You can share opinions, talk to doctors, but it’s your opinion in the end that matters. I wanted to throw this on the table to see if I’m missing anything in my thinking

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you.And bravo for asking such a thought provoking question. I remember feeling hurt and disappointed when my mother elected not to do chemo because I didn’t want her to die. My father understood that she couldn’t suffer that much and respected her decision even though it broke his heart. I now finally get it. Chemo has put me in the hospital twice. It’s not for everyone. (Mouth blisters the size of New Jersey, a mini stroke)…. I’m amazed at the women who make it through. But I can’t judge those who don’t do it. I begged my Best friend to continue chemo and she still died. Now I realize I was being selfish. I wanted her to live. I often ask myself if I prolonged her suffering because I (along with her sister) encouraged her to continue chemo. I suppose there’s no easy or right answer….

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Interesting. Another scenario in which there is a lot to consider. I have only had one major medical decision to make and while I did discuss it with my husband, ultimately it was my choice. It did leave me with some permanent changes (facial surgery due to TMJ problems) and that does affect my husband in some ways but fortunately they are not major. He, on the other hand has had several major medical issues and we thoroughly discuss everything. I have the medical background so I am able to give him some insight and I will admit there have been a few times when I’ve said to him, “You need to do this or you will get worse.” Fortunately he listened and he is better. I do believe your mental outlook can influence your medical outcome and if you are not totally behind the decision, it may take longer or not work at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. A lot of this depends on your resources and choices. Do you have good health care? Can you afford it? Who is taking care of you? What are your choices? And if you are lucky to have good health care, than you have options.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think the person who will be having treatment gets the final say …
    Except what about when someone is no longer able to make decisions for themself? How does this get handled? Is it on the children? Which one if they disagree? The spouse if that person is newish and not the children’s parent? There are a lot of ways this could play out.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a deep topic.
    I think an individual should ultimately be the decision maker in his/her own health crisis, but I think taking a partner into consideration when making said decision is important too. But ultimately, the decision should be made by the individual who’s going through it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I think the discussion should involve both parties, but it is and should be , in my opinion, the patient. If it involves quite a bit of nursing by the spouse or family member then it should be their choice if they want to hire outside help.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I think in a situation like this, the spouse should have input, but the ultimate decision is with the person who is sick or suffering from some sort of problem. Ideally, they would see things the same way. But if not…. All I know is, if my husband had cancer, I would let him have the final say on the treatment plan. It’s his body, and my job to support him.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. In theory, I could *consider* outside influence where the patient isn’t mentally capable of making the decision – otherwise, their body, their choice – no discussion whatsoever. But, in practice, even that’s a minefield. My ex-FIL gave permission for his wife to have ECT for her paranoia, over the horrified reaction of her daughter. I was also horrified, while my ex (his son) was fine with it (this decision started the slippery slide to him being my ex). When her paranoia returned, she made a decision herself to have a further round of ECT, although I was concerned there’d been a degree of coercion. The second round worked, but she was never the same person again. I get that treatment choices can impact massively on loved ones (as it was doing in this case) but, in a partnership, if you can’t (or won’t) support your loved one in the bad times, then it’s time to ship out. One last for instance – an elderly gentleman of my acquaintance endured multiple horrendous years of cancer treatments because his wife wasn’t ready to accept losing him. Shortly before he died, he admitted to his son how he wished he’d been able to put her wishes aside, to have accepted palliative care and died with dignity. His son was heartbroken for, if he’d known, he’d have supported his father. In such circumstances, there’s no place for selfishness in any but the patient, in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s my thought too…the part about a person not wanting to lose their partner so they coerce them into “life saving” procedures which take a toll mentally as well as physically. I don’t think it’s fair

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Fortunately, I have a hubby who lets me make my own decisions and I let him make his. We discuss these things with each other like adults, weigh pros & cons but ultimately make our own decision. I was faced with hemmroid surgery a few years ago. Hubby didn’t think I should have it. He thought it was selective. I chose to have it which proved that it was medically necessary. They found I have pre-cancer cells in my anal gland. Without the surgery, it could have turned into cancer & been too late to prevention. Patient’s choice.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, on the other hand, my neighbor recently fell and hit her head. She was in the hospital for a week. She has a strained marriage and her husband was trying to control everything as he controls her at home. Once she came out of ICU, she took control of herself with her doctors. In my opinion, she has made some bad decisions just to spite her husband but they were hers to make. Every situation is different, but in the end, the patient, if in the right mind should decide their own fate.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s