Palace of Care – No Bullshit

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

She hadn’t trusted her daughters and wasn’t keen on medications in general. She had tried to hide how unwell she was. They had wanted to help her but she had felt so unwell that she couldn’t accept their help. Everything had hurt, her head, her skin, even her hair. Nausea was her constant companion, and vomiting was the guest who kept overstaying their welcome. She didn’t want to go to the hospital, she said she would give hospice a go.

“I feel heaps better today.”

“What’s going on?”

“My pain is gone, I don’t feel sick anymore since the elderly doctor started the medicines yesterday.”

“That’s good. Did you have some breakfast?”

“Yeah, I had some porridge, but they didn’t cook it the way I like it. There was brown sugar but it wasn’t quite right.”

“You managed to keep it down.”

“Yeah, first time in a while.”

“Good. What do you think is going on? What did your doctors tell you?”

“I like my cancer doctor, he’s a Pakeha but married to a Māori. He told me like it was.”

“Straight up?”

“Yeah, none of that bullshit the others had used. He was honest, and let me know what was going on.”

“You’re not going to get any bullshit here. What did he say?”

“The cancer has spread from my lungs, has gone to my head. There aren’t any treatments left for me.”

“What do you think has been going on lately to make you feel so bad?”

“Probably the cancer getting worse.”

“Yeah, I think the cancer in the brain has grown bigger. It’s giving you headaches, making you feel sick and vomit. Has your thinking been not so clear?”

“Yeah, it hasn’t been right since the radiotherapy and the chemo. If anyone asked me if they should have the treatment for cancer, I’d tell them not to.”

“It hasn’t helped?”

“No, I feel so much worse.”

“You gave it a go. I need to check with you about what you want. There’s a treatment that might help you, but it probably would only work for a short time. You could either try it or not. It’s up to you and the whānau.”

“Hmm, I’m not sure. What do my children think?”

“We want you to try mum.”

“Okay, I’ll try it. Thanks for being honest with me.”

“No worries. We’ll give it a good go, and see what happens. E noho ra.”

“See you later Doc.”

Palace of Care – The Show Must Not Go On

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hey, welcome to our hospice.

I know that you put on the show for your friends and social media, but you don’t need to do that with us. You don’t have to be all right when you are feeling anything but.

We need to see the real you in order to be able to really help you.

We know how strong and tough you are.

Please don’t use up your precious energy telling us what you think we want to hear.

I will be honest with you but I want you to ask for help when you need it.

We will always use as little medication as we can, but we do not want you to put up with discomfort, we don’t want you to struggle.

We are really keen to help you, if you’ll let us.

Can you do that?

What would make this place feel less like a hospital for you?

Please bring in your own stuff to decorate the walls.

You have made brave decisions recently to stop treatment, which I fully support.

I’d be happy to explain things to your partner when they come in.

Listen to your body, don’t push yourself. Rest when you need to, think of it as a recharge. Ask for help when you need to.

Save your energy for nicer things, more important activities, like spending time with your partner.

If there is anything you disagree with, please let us know.

We’d like to give you back some control of your situation, completing the advance care plan will help.

We are on your side and will be guided by what you want, or don’t want.

Thanks for giving us a go.

Palace of Care – Unfinished Business

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

I don’t feel well. I’m having trouble breathing. I feel so tired, but all I do is sleep. I’m feeling too weak to walk to the toilet, I almost fell over last night.

The nurses told me that you’ve had bad pain, but that you didn’t want to take pain relief.

I need to finish sorting out my legal affairs, I don’t want to leave too much for my friend to have to deal with.

Our social worker can help you with that stuff, she can talk to your friend. What else is bothering you? You look worried.

Doctor, I think I don’t have much time left, I feel so terrible, I don’t even have energy to talk to my sisters back home. Why do I feel so bad?

You’re getting worse, it’s the cancer, your body can’t handle it anymore. I think you are dying, and you might only have days left to live.

I thought so, I just need to sort my stuff out…

Then you’d be able to let go?

Yes, I don’t think I can hold on for much longer.

I think I can make you more comfortable, putting up with pain will use up your energy even faster, and make you more tired. Can I increase your pain relief a bit? It might make you less tired.

Okay, if you think it will help.

We’re going to get you through this, and even if you fall asleep we will continue to try to make you comfortable. We’re going to get you through this. This is our social worker, she can help you with your stuff.

Thank you doctor.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with. I’ll see you later.

[Wave goodbye]