Over the years I have noticed that when it comes to reunions of significant others that there can be a number of different outcomes. If someone has had to hang on, having reached the reunion might be akin to mission accomplished, and the person can deteriorate quickly after the meeting. Or else the person may receive a boost from the reunion and somehow it provides energy for them to carry on living, much longer than is to be expected.
The latter was the case with our patient, I knew that he was a strong man, with an unshakeable faith and strong willpower. I was surprised to learn from my Island contact that after the arduous journey our patient only stayed one night at the hospital, and was discharged the next day to his family’s home. What is it about the human spirit that can make it so resilient? The science can’t explain it, it is one of the mysteries of life. The importance of human connection, can keep you going, or bring you to a complete stop.
His prognosis had always been limited as he was very unwell throughout. The joy of reuniting with his siblings and their children really gave him a boost. 27 days he lasted before he died, which was impressive, and also fortunate as we could only provide him with 30 days’ worth of medications. He died just before he would’ve run out of his crucial medications.
Was he changed by his illness experience? In some ways, but I don’t think it changed the core man. On the other side was I the doctor changed by the care experience? In some ways, but not in my core. The experience confirmed my why, that I am here to make the world a better place for dying people.
With my clinical skills and experience I had really thought that he was going to die quickly many times throughout his inpatient admission. Oh here he goes, about to fall off the cliff, I think that he will be dying within days. Our attempts at prognostication are our best educated guesses, but they are still guesses, and at times you will be proved wrong. It is one area that being wrong isn’t such a bad thing. He kept on proving me wrong, somehow he would get over his issue, and he’d stabilise again. He remained steadfast in his strong desire to return home, to the family that he missed so much, his siblings and their children. Thus the last time he asked to go home, I went along with his wish, and we were thankfully able to make it happen.
His strong desire to get home, to see his loved ones, drove him forward, his will to survive had kept him alive, when many others in similar situations would surely have perished. He was only slightly older than I was at the time, and his grim reality could not be escaped. We managed to keep him comfortable but the healing occurred when he was able to get back home to his family. He could finally be at peace with those he loved the most around him.
I was exhausted once I arrived home but it was a happy exhaustion, hey I’d done a good thing that day, that I had really made a difference and helped someone out who really needed it.
That all happened over seven years ago and I hadn’t realised that I hadn’t documented the story, having just written a short note to inform people of the mission’s success. #getjakbak became #gotjakbak. The catchy #hashtag certainly had helped the crowdfunding effort.
He was one half of a young couple who were only trying their best to live their life.
My life went on, his did not, but he is remembered by me, and many others.
Rest in peace Brother.
Island-Man – Endgame