Palace of Care – Terroir

Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash

We celebrated International Nurses Day last Thursday with a special breakfast with lots of goodies for all. Nurses are a crucial part of any palliative care and hospice team and it was great to celebrate them with some special treats. Individual paper hats were made available each adorned with little red Superman style shields, thanking them for being heroic in the jobs that they do. Special little bags of sweets were prepared and handed out to all of our staff.

There was a buzz of mirth and fun throughout our inpatient unit and this was noticed by the patients and their families too. One couple commented on it being nice to hear raucous laughter happening outside of their room. It was nice to be staying in a healthcare institution where people were enjoying each other’s company at work. This couple had stayed in many different healthcare institutions over the past years and thus spoke from experience.

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Palace of Care – The Ties That Bind

Covid summer time and I’ve been wearing boring grey coloured scrubs for months now. As it became hotter I must admit that it has been good to not have to wear neckties – my usual trademark item.

My patients and their families usually enjoy them, so I will continue wearing them. They can be a good icebreaker, in that a doctor who wears cartoon ties probably isn’t so far up himself, chances are he’s approachable.

One Friday whilst wearing a rainbow trout on my neck I had asked my patient what tie she wanted me to wear on Monday. She said to wear a favourite one, and so I would.

I walked in and noticed that we had something in common. This had not been arranged and had happened purely by chance. Turquoise was the colour of my tie and the colour of her night dress, exactly the same colour.

Hey great minds think alike.

Yeah we both have great taste in colour.

I love Winnie the Pooh.

Heh, I’m the only doctor who doesn’t mind a bit of Pooh on his tie.

Haha, you know we have something else in common too.

Oh really, what’s that?

She took the turquoise short sleeve off her left shoulder revealing a Winnie the Pooh tattoo.

SNAP.

I was uncharacteristically speechless for a few seconds. Wow, synchronicity.

Tie requests were entertained over the next week, but then she became too unwell to choose.

When she was actively dying and unable to talk her family members presented me with something that she had wanted me to have.

Thank you, that’s really nice, I promise that I will wear it well.

Since then, on alternate Fridays, I wear a purple tuna fish around my neck.

3/80 of the ties in my collection

Palace of Care – Friday morning hospice ward round cryptic crossword

Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash

ACROSS
1: Impromptu quartet sang – One of the members in great need of a barbershop.
2: Wedding planners hard at work.
3: You took the words right out of my mouth – Rock cake, Crap.

DOWN
4: Worst fears confirmed with some relief evident
5: A torrent of emotional pain released as a primal scream.
6: My heart will go on?

1: Have you heard the one about the patient, her daughter, and her two doctors?

How did you meet your husband?

A lot of people have asked me that, they always want to know that. It was nothing to do with me, God made it happen. After we married we travelled to many of the Pacific Islands, as missionaries, we took our kids with us. He started off being a teacher, then he became a minister. I helped him with both. It was hard work but a good life.

You must have helped many people.

Yes, we enjoyed it very much. I really miss him, he’s been gone four years. I will be with him again, that’s the only thing I want now. To be with my husband again, back home.

You’ve been really unwell lately, but you have improved again. What makes you so strong?

You want to sing a song?

I’m not sure that’s a good idea, I don’t want to distress you with my voice. I once took singing lessons some years ago. My wife says I should find my teacher, and ask for a refund.

Go on, just one song.

Umm, I’ll do it if you sing with me. What do you want to sing?

Hmmm, you choose.

Let me think…Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Sunbeam smile from the patient which lit up the room.

Daughter smiled and was able to truly relax for the first time in weeks.

Behind her mask the young doctor smiled in surprise at the simple beauty of the moment.

The masked older doctor smiled as he was reminded of why he works in hospice.

2017 ANZSPM Aotearoa Annual Conference and AGM

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We at Palliverse love a conference, especially one that “brings together doctors working in palliative care” in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The 2017 ANZSPM Aotearoa Annual Conference and AGM will be held in Christchurch this year. It all starts off with the Trainee Day on 11/08/17 which is open to all Palliative Medicine trainees, General Practitioners with a special interest in Palliative Care and Medical officers working in Palliative Care.

The 2017 Annual Education Update Programme is packed with many topics of interest, and will be a good opportunity to catch up with what is going on all over the country, as well as catching up with new and old friends. This year Dr Wendy Pattemore will be introducing a new session called, “Wild Successes and Fabulous Failures,” which will provide an opportunity to share how Palliative Care is done in your own ‘patch’.

To register you can either use this 2017 Annual Education Days and Trainee Day Registration Form or register via the website. Attendees must be ANZSPM members. Our friends from Australia are always very welcome!

For my reflections from the 2015 ANZSPM Aotearoa conference, click here.

I think therefore I am/Palace of Care – Hospice New Zealand 2016 Conference Keynote Presentation

Hi everyone,

Here is a copy of my slides from the Keynote presentation that I made on 16/09/16 at the Hospice New Zealand 2016 Conference.

I was intentionally being provocative and I was purposefully trying to challenge the audience’s mindset with the material that I presented, as I believe that New Zealand Hospice/Palliative Care needs to be “shaken up,” if it is to remain relevant. Now it’s your turn, you have been warned…

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I am working on a version which will have clickable links, and also on a recorded live performance of the presentation. In the meantime the slides with comments have been loaded onto the Palliverse Instagram account.

Cheers,

James

Palace of Care – Hello

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Palace of Care

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Hi everyone,

Join me in sharing stories from the lighter/brighter side of Palliative Care.

Cheers,

James