I’ve had relatives who’ve come in before but they never made it out, they died after a couple of weeks. When he was asked to come in we were pretty nervous, we didn’t quite know what to expect. Yeah, we were scared. We had to do something though. His tummy pain was real bad, but it was his anxiety and panic attacks that were the worst. He’d freak out and I didn’t know what to do. I’d freak out too. His pain was controlled after a couple of days in hospice, then his panic attacks settled down. This was despite having received the worst news ever, that he had cancer.
We didn’t know they were looking for cancer during the last three months. We thought they were trying to find out why he was constipated. We didn’t know why he had lost 30kg of weight. He had always loved food but then he had no appetite. The poos kept on changing, sometimes hard, sometimes soft, sometimes with blood. They stuck a tube up his bum to have a look but they had to stop because the sedation they gave him almost killed him. It was a shock when the hospice doctors told us that the other doctors thought he had cancer.
The other great thing about being here in the hospice is that it is neutral ground. It was safe for him and his ‘niece’ to meet up here. You allowed us to have some space and they were able to start talking. Yesterday they ended up just going to a cafe together and they sorted out the issue between them that had kept them apart for decades. He’d done some stuff in the past. He’d done his time. Coming here to hospice allowed them to heal. Deep healing of the spirit happened yesterday. He came back a changed man. A father and daughter were able to connect with each other, to start to build a relationship that had been broken for years. It was good for the grandchildren to see this happen. It’s good for the whole family. We couldn’t have done it without what you have provided us here. It means so much to us. Thank you so much.
She was unwell, and needed to come in for symptom control. She had been sick for many months but the pain had worsened to the point of intolerability. This was one tough lady, and she liked to show just how tough she was by being in your face. This is how I am, and who I am, and if you don’t like it, go to hell. That’s what her outer shell showed anyway, when she arrived she was feeling too unwell to put up her usual shields. She had always had trouble letting people in, and it took a bit of work in order for us to establish an useful rapport with her. Once we did we were able to help with her physical symptoms but no matter what we tried we could not penetrate her deep sadness and her feeling of being unloved.
She had moved thousands of miles from her birthplace, away from her blood family members. She had made a new life for herself over the 20 years that she had lived in New Zealand, but it was away from her family of origin. There seemed to be something from her past that kept on hurting her, even more than her end-stage cancer was able to. Physical pain we managed to get on top of, but her emotional pain we weren’t able to shift at all. Our counsellors, social workers and spiritual care advisor all tried their best but something was held back, which she could not share. Some things just hurt too much to be revealed, even to total strangers.
07/12/17 – Update – Attendees please note that tomorrow morning in Auckland there will be a Railway Workers Strike meaning that road traffic will likely be much heavier than usual. We have asked attendees to arrive at 8.45am for a 9am start, please factor in the strike traffic delay when planning your travel for tomorrow morning. If you arrive early you can visit our on-site Cafe Totara for a fresh Barista-made coffee, with a range of fresh food available as well, all prepared on-site. An email update will be sent to attendees who have already registered.
Can healing occur at the end of life?
To whom does compassion need to extend to at the end of life?
These are the type of questions that will be explored in Totara Hospice South Auckland’s education centre this Friday morning, 08 December 2017 9am to 12pm.
We are privileged to be hosting two international speakers.
Since arrival she had been very anxious and spent most of the first few days alone in her room. “I don’t want to interact with anyone, please leave me alone, keep the curtains closed and the lights off” – like a hermit crab withdrawing deeper into her shell.
Worsening pain had brought her to us, severe physical pain, the result of increasingly bad news about the toll her disease was taking on her body over the past six months, and also likely emotional pain as evidenced by worsening anxiety. Despite the team’s best attempts at connecting she remained aloof and guarded, sleep being a source of solace.