Palace of Care – What She Said at Lunch

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Life over the past two years had become chaotic and uncertain, but she was certain that the gathered guests were there for a good cause. She thanked the crowd for spending their time at the hospice fundraising lunch. In New Zealand there are over 27000 registered charities and on this day hundreds of people had chosen to be there to raise money for the hospice. She thanked the sponsors and donors for their generous gifts and support. She told them that hospice couldn’t do what they do without their help.

She didn’t know what hospice was about until three years after her mother’s death. She cradled her mother in her arms as she became heavier and heavier, and as she took her last breaths. Although she was flooded with deep sadness, relief was the dominant feeling. Relief from her mother not suffering any longer. The night before her mother died she decided to chase her dream to become an Olympian. On arrival at the hospice they could feel the care and love surrounding them. When her mother was transferred to the hospice she was able to sleep in a La-Z-Boy instead of the hard-tiled floor of the hospital.

Yesterday morning she thought she would not survive long enough to speak at the hospice fundraising event this afternoon. She had to bring her oxygen bottle to be able to attend. She shared with the audience her own experiences of hospice, and how they had helped her make life more bearable. She talked about the friends she had made at the hospice’s living well centre. There was one friend in particular who she missed the most. The final contact they had with each other was when her friend was in the hospital. The hospice group of friends had sent their friend best wishes via a group photo, which was much appreciated. Unfortunately, their friend died the next day. A reminder of how precarious life is when you are dying.

I think therefore I am? – Notes on Beds

My hospice is fundraising for new beds as per the link below:

I’m being jailed for a good cause, and need to be bailed out

Here’s the first draft of a speech I’ll be performing tomorrow at our fundraiser finale event. This story will become a chapter in the second book I’m writing. Working title – More Bedside Lessons.

If a bed could talk, what stories would it tell?

I was there when the life partnership was signed off.

I was there when the twinkle in the eye became something even brighter and shinier. I was there at the start of a new life. People begin in beds.

Nine months later a little human was born on a bed.

I was there when two became three, four, five, including one with four legs and a tail.

Special birthday celebrations began with breakfast cooked by the younger ones.

Beds are where the children sneak into when they are frightened during the night. And also the pets during a thunderstorm or Guy Fawkes Night.

For children the bed can be a trampoline, or a crash mat. The first flip of a budding gymnast. Or the first submarine of a deep sea explorer.

I keep people warm and tucked in.

What stories does the hospice bed have to tell?

I can be a place of safety, a place of refuge, I’ll make you comfortable.

I’ve enabled family members to be together, surrounding their treasured one with love.

I was there when they had their deep and meaningful conversations.

I cheered along with the family as we watched a movie together.

I’ve overheard important conversations. I was there when life-changing decisions were made.

Breakfast in bed can be a nice treat. Lunch and dinner in bed is usually only for when someone is very unwell.

I was there when the doctor helped the family to understand what was happening.

I’ve seen other family members coming to visit, those with four legs and a tail, those with two legs and two wings. All of these visitors have been welcomed even the slow moving tortoise with the wonky leg – Yes he was troubled by a reptile dysfunction.

At times I’ve had to become a toileting facility when my guest is too unwell to get up. I can also provide a comfortable place to have a bath.

The congregation can bring the church service to my guest, I welcome them.

No Joke – The Rabbi, the Imam, and the Lama are all welcome to visit my guests.

When people become more unwell they spend more time on me. I become the final resting place for many people.

In the hospice they often pull up another bed to be alongside me. They may have been together for half a century and have never slept apart. Why does that need to change at the end of life?

I was there when the elderly couple said goodnight to each other for the last time.

Hospice beds are not just a bed.

It’s a coffee date with your best friend.

It’s family meal night.

It’s where I held his hand for the last time.

It’s where we had our final conversation. It all started with a kiss, and it ended with a kiss.

Thank you for your fundraising efforts. We will get many years of service from our new hospice beds.

The beds will be put to good use, ensuring patient comfort and helping to put their loved ones at ease.

Goldilocks would approve of these beds. They are just right.

Let’s make our hospice beds as comfortable and comforting as we can.

Thank you for making a difference.

Thank you for Making Hospice Happen.

Palace of Care – A typical day at the office

Photo by Lukas Tennie on Unsplash

From 11am in the morning it would become noisy, something that our hospice had been missing over the past two years. COVID hit us hard in terms of being unable to host fundraising events. These usually involve lots of people gathering together, something that we are all learning to do again. The patients were warned of the murmuring and laughter that would come from underneath our inpatient unit. 200 plus ladies would be entertained at our Ladies’ Lunch. The highlight of the lunch would be the fashion show, with 15 of our staff members modelling clothes from our retail stores.

Our patient was admitted yesterday and she felt that our hospice had a good vibe. She liked how friendly and welcoming our staff were. It was a good surprise to hear laughter outside of her door. This all added to a culture of care that appealed to her. She told us that she would be seeing us model the clothing downstairs. I thought she was kidding.

I was tasked with thanking our guests for their support, including our long-standing event sponsors. I gave a short speech and then read one of the stories that I had written about one of the patients I looked after directly upstairs from our dining venue. Then it was time for my next job, rushing up the ramp, to my make-shift changing room. I quick-changed out of my clothing into my hospice shop sourced outfit. A funky shirt and blue denim jeans. I was ready to be on the catwalk

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Palace of Care – Welcome to Hospice – Part 3

Photo by Sebastian Staines on Unsplash

What the heck was going on? I was in a senior leadership meeting and the receptionist asked me to come over urgently as there was a man shouting at the front desk. I went over to see what was going on and was met by a man in a leather jacket. I took him into the side room so that we could talk in private. It took me a few seconds to realise that he was hearing impaired, and that’s why he was talking loudly. I raised my own voice in order for him to hear me properly. He said that he had lost his hearing because of work, back in the day they weren’t as careful with hearing protection.

He told me that he we had looked after his wife last month, and told me her name. It took me about ten seconds before I remembered who she was. Oh right, I think I met you when your wife was with us. Sorry that I didn’t recognise you. I remember your wife really well, she was a nice lady. Two days before she died, she had visited another patient that she had met in hospital. Even though your wife was so unwell and so short of breath, she had made a big effort to make the other lady feel better by welcoming her to hospice, that was really nice of her. He said that was what she had always been like, always helping people out.

He said that the reason he had come in was to tell us about something that he had organised in honour of his wife. In her memory he had organised a motorbike rally, from here in Auckland, to his wife’s favourite mountain. People who joined would donate, with the proceeds going towards our hospice, in memory of his wife. 120 people had already signed up and he wanted us to know, as the family didn’t have much money, but wanted to donate something in order to help others in the community. That’s what his wife had been all about, always thinking of others.

I thanked him for thinking of us and for organising the fundraising effort. Your wife was a kind lady, and she would be proud of your effort. Safe riding.

Palliverse’s Greatest Hits from Oct 2014 – #getjakbak revisited – Part 1

Photo by Rob Wicks on Unsplash

What a disaster I thought, as I listened to the referral. A 44 year old man had become unwell in the Pacific Islands and had been urgently transferred to New Zealand for assessment and treatment. He had an abdominal mass lesion which was extremely painful after having had massive weight loss over the previous two months. He had been a great orator and had been destined to be a future leader of his church. He was married without children.

He and his wife had come over two months ago and things had not been good at all.
He had been diagnosed with a large abdominal mass found to be cancer with spinal cord compression and lung metastases. The impression was that there was nothing that could be done medically for him, and that he should try to return back to the Islands as soon as possible as his condition would likely deteriorate quickly.

Travel arrangements were made for him and his wife to return back home in the following week, but he became acutely unwell before he could finish arranging his journey. A difficult situation, thousands of miles from home, with little in the way of family members or support locally. Displaced, stuck, and also critically unwell.

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