We knew he would die soon and we asked him if he wanted us to contact anyone. He told us he would like his son to know, but he didn’t have his phone number. By this time he was too unwell and needed help with communication via social media. Our nurses helped him to send a message via his accounts. He died before he received any replies.
As per his wishes, we had arranged for a funeral director to uplift his body as he had wanted a simple cremation. He had limited savings and arrangements had been made with social welfare for a funeral grant to pay for his cremation. Our nurses again checked his social media accounts and found a reply from his son, including a phone number. A phone call was made overseas and was answered by the young man’s foster mother. She was told of our patient’s death, and said that his son wanted to come over to see him, and would arrive in town in three days’ time.
It had taken some convincing for her to be admitted into the hospice inpatient unit, after two rough weeks in hospital. COVID lockdown restrictions had meant that she had not been allowed visitors for most of the time. She hadn’t been locked up but she had felt like a prisoner in her hospital room. For safety reasons not windows could be opened. Things kept changing, and the doctor with the sad face kept on bringing bad news. It seemed like nothing ever went right. The treatments were not working. Her calcium had risen to dangerous levels which required repeated treatments.
When she arrived at hospice her COVID swab result had not come back yet, so for the first day she still had to be under restrictions. She had a room to herself, and she could open the window and door to the balcony. The fresh air was a nice change after being cooped up inside the hospital. The food was delivered in takeaway containers and they only provided plastic cutlery. A small thing but just something else to add to the list. The people were all nice and really tried to make her feel at ease, but deep inside she felt uneasy.
The first time one of my medical professionals touched me for comfort rather than during a physical exam, it was during my liver biopsy. I was extremely frightened of the procedure, due to how painful I’d been warned the procedure was, and I was, and still am, slightly uncomfortable with needles (though daily Clexane shots sure sorts that out fast). The medical team at the imaging clinic I attended had gotten in a second nurse, just to hold my hand during the procedure. It was her 60th birthday, and she had been called in, literally, just to hold my hand. I was incredibly moved by this, and incredibly comforted to have someone gently talk me through what was going on – to warn me to look away when the giant liver biopsy needle was brought out, helping me count holding my breath as the needle drew up the cancerous cells, and gently walking me to the recovery room after the procedure finished. It was one of the kindest things I have experienced with my medical professionals – and I have experienced more kindness than I can even recognise. Continue reading →