Taking the social history is an important part of our assessments in palliative care, as we need to know the people that we are dealing with in order to be able to help them to the best of our abilities.
One of my favourite questions to ask couples is, how did you first meet each other?
The replies are always interesting and take people back to exciting times. Transporting them to when they first fell in love.
Examples of answers include:
“I was working in the islands and she was the beautiful girl on the bicycle who caught my eye. I just had to find out who she was. We’ve now been married for 52 years and have four children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”
“I had just finished a business meeting and was relaxing in a bar, I had taken off my neck-tie as it had been a hot day, my beard was wet with sweat. I was recounting how the meeting had been and wished I hadn’t said some things, when he walked in through the door. He was directed towards my table, as opposite to me was the only remaining seat. He asked if he could join me, and it felt as if they had turned up the temperature gauge to maximum, as I melted in his deep brown eyes.”
“I had been to the races and was waiting for the bus. This car pulled up and this guy came and introduced himself and asked if I wanted a ride home. I could hear my mother’s voice saying don’t trust strangers and look out for men who are too forward. The right thing to do would have been to politely decline, and wait for the bus. There was something about his blue eyes that drew me into his car, and his tight little butt probably helped too. I regretted things as soon as I had taken a seat, because in the back seats were child-seats. A married man with two children at least? He told me that he was transporting them for a friend. Turns out he was being honest as I met his friend two weeks later. We’ve been married for 48 years and he is still a rascal.”
“I’m so glad that my friends convinced me to go, as I was going to stay at home and wash my hair. It was at a dance, as soon as I walked into the hall with my girlfriends, I could feel his eyes looking at me across hall. He asked me to dance, and we’ve been dancing together ever since. That was 52 years ago. We’ve had plenty of ups and downs, and have been through so much, but the last seven months have been the toughest challenge of our lives.”
I have a fascinating job and it is a privilege to have people share their stories with me.