Palace of Care – There’s no place like home

Photo by Andrew Umansky on Unsplash

It had taken some convincing for her to be admitted into the hospice inpatient unit, after two rough weeks in hospital. COVID lockdown restrictions had meant that she had not been allowed visitors for most of the time. She hadn’t been locked up but she had felt like a prisoner in her hospital room. For safety reasons not windows could be opened. Things kept changing, and the doctor with the sad face kept on bringing bad news. It seemed like nothing ever went right. The treatments were not working. Her calcium had risen to dangerous levels which required repeated treatments.

When she arrived at hospice her COVID swab result had not come back yet, so for the first day she still had to be under restrictions. She had a room to herself, and she could open the window and door to the balcony. The fresh air was a nice change after being cooped up inside the hospital. The food was delivered in takeaway containers and they only provided plastic cutlery. A small thing but just something else to add to the list. The people were all nice and really tried to make her feel at ease, but deep inside she felt uneasy.

The Oncologist had said something confusing to her before she had left. He had said that it probably wasn’t a good idea to continue treating her high calcium levels, that a death from high calcium levels could be better. Better than what? She talked to the hospice specialist about it. He explained that the calcium treatments she had already received would stay in her body for at least a year, and that she would not benefit from further doses. He also talked about that it wouldn’t be a good use of time. He did go on a bit about asking for pain relief when her pain returned. He didn’t seem to like her usual practice of trying to put up with pain as long as possible. He made a good point that putting up with pain was exhausting, which was something that she had noticed herself over the past weeks.

She was surprised when the doctor came back with what he called a hospice care pack. There was a coloured printout explaining the difference between the hospice cat and a local more scratchy imposter. He had noticed that she was wearing Roald Dahl’s Matilda pyjamas and had printed off Roald Dahl character colouring in pages, to go with the colouring books that she already had brought in with her. He had also printed off an article with illustrations by Quentin Blake imagining Matilda at 30 years old. Hmm, maybe she would try asking for the pain relief earlier like he had recommended.

The COVID result came back later that day and the restrictions were lifted. The next morning she actually felt more comfortable and although it was nice enough at the hospice, she really missed home. Especially the creature that she considered her own child, Monsieur Le Chat. She asked to be discharged home and it seemed not to be a problem at all. The hospice said they would follow her up at home.

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