The illness had affected her speech making it difficult to understand. With some effort I could tune into what she was saying but there were some things that I could not understand. It was frustrating for her as her mind was sharp but the words would not come out right. The nerves controlling her vocal cords and her breathing muscles were not doing their job any more. She tried to tell us about her suffering but she could only use short sentences. She hadn’t been able to raise her voice for years, and even if she wanted to scream out loud, only a whisper would’ve been heard.
Her pain was not physical, she could handle physical pain and simple pain relief would have helped. The agony she felt she could no longer describe in words. Her sense of wholeness had long been destroyed, her ability to exist as a person had been torn apart. Mere words could not describe the torment she had lived with for six years. I tried to listen to her actively, I tried to read her situation, her illness ravaged poker face only provided scant clues. Intellectually I had an inkling of what she had lost, but I could not feel it during our first meeting. I needed more information before I could understand.
We talked and he looked to be in pain, not physical but emotional/spiritual/social pain. He wanted to stay at home with his family but he knew that it was becoming too much to handle for them all. The boys are still young, his partner has a significant health issue. He wanted to be at home but was worried that caring for him would put her under too much strain, she had already had a close call.
Usually the fire of anger was what he would allow to erupt, but instead he let out his desolation. His weak voice did not allow him to scream very loudly but he did so for five minutes. A raw primal scream from deep within his soul like a deeply wounded animal. Utter devastation unleashed as a whimper. The disease that had ravaged his body, only allowed a small strangled noise to come out.
We did not try to soothe him, and would’ve been lying to say that it was going to be all right. “Let it all out, you need to let it all out.” Tears were streaming down his face, into his beard, but he no longer had the hand or arm strength to wipe them away. We didn’t move, he needed this moment of catharsis, he needed this time to let out his deeply buried emotion.
He stopped screaming and started apologising, we said that there was no need to. We could see that what he had needed was to let it out, and we had allowed it to happen.
“I feel better.” “I thought you would.” “Thanks.” “No worries bro, we’re good, let’s make a plan to get you home, but you need to have help, otherwise nothing will work. “
On the desk I was surprised to see the returned tackle box. This usually happens when a patient doesn’t require subcutaneous medications anymore, or else when a death has occurred. There would be a missing name on our “patients to be discussed” list tomorrow, one that had been on the list for most of the past eight months. Continue reading →