The portrait was the first thing that caught my eye when I entered the room. A strongly built olive-skinned young man with a confident smile. His eyes had a mischievous glint as if he was just about to share a joke. Dressed in a well-fitted suit oozing simple elegance. A man in his prime who was enjoying life. He looked like someone with a bright future ahead of him. Happiness personified.
I looked around the room but did not find the man in the picture. On the hospital bed was a small unwell-looking man. His teak-coloured skin was an adverse effect of the many treatments he had received over months. His cheekbones were too obvious, stark evidence of massive weight loss. With great effort, he turned slowly towards me when I introduced myself. The result of too many sleepless nights and what may have felt to him prolonged incarceration in the hospital. The hospital gown was draped around his slender body. A quantity of life-saving infusion ran into a line embedded in his chest. He was lying in bed with suffering etched across his prematurely aged face. Defeat personified.
I was keen to help. I wanted to admit him to my hospice. I outlined a brief escape plan for him. I wanted to help him get home. He kept on breaking eye contact. Was it just shyness or had he heard it all before? His eyes were dull and the only glimpse of a slight spark was seen when I talked about trying to reunite him with his dog. I wanted to make it happen as soon as possible. I thought that his time was running out, that he might only have mere weeks left to live. I wanted to act fast before his condition worsened. I asked him directly, “If you only had a few days left to live, where would you want to be?” “At home.” Home-sickness personified.
Our teams began making arrangements for the transfer. Special training was required for the infusions he was having. We were keen to make it happen.