Almost a year ago I visited a local Rongoā Clinic as I was interested in learning more about traditional Māori medicine which is comprised of diverse practices with an emphasis on the spiritual dimension of health. Rongoā includes herbal remedies, physical therapies such as massage and manipulation, and spiritual healing.
During my visit, I met a Rongoā clinic patient who had recently become one of my hospice patients. She was well at the time but over the course of the past 11 months her condition worsened. Pain developed and initially had been controlled by the herbal remedies applied. In recent months the pain had become intolerable and she had become bed-bound. Too sore to leave her bed let alone leave the house. Everyone involved in her care were worried and wanted to ease her suffering. She initially refused to take the strong pain relief agents that we had suggested, and preferred to continue with only her Rongoā treatments.
I asked for a joint assessment to be arranged with myself and the Rongoā practitioner both seeing the patient at the same time. I went to the clinic this morning and was joined by the nurse assigned to our shared patient. We were ready to show our patient that we were happy to work together in a fusion of traditional Māori medicine and modern Palliative Medicine. We were hoping that together we could convince our patient to have both traditional treatments and strong pain relief agents. We wanted her to have the best of both worlds of care.
That was the plan, but someone had already beaten us to it. The patient had recently been seen by her new general practitioner and he had already convinced her to take pain relief along with her traditional treatments. The combination worked and at the clinic this morning a smiling patient greeted us. Her beaming smile told us exactly how she felt. Her husband was happy that his wife had improved with the combination of treatments. She felt better and was now able to check up on his housework, to make sure that he was meeting her high standards. She was back, after having felt trapped in a dark place. Both of our organisations made plans to follow her up in the near future, and we pledged to each other that we would like to work together more in the future. In the meantime, the formerly bed-bound patient was being taken into town to have lunch with her husband.