Palace of Care – A Life Together/Apart

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

Harsh life stuff happened and they had to part. Too many angry words exchanged when under the influence had driven them apart. It had taken him a while to realise that and by then it was too late to reconcile.

Instead, a friendship developed as they continued to parent and co-grandparent, together but at a distance. They were still a family but they no longer lived under just one roof.

With earnest intentions they made it work throughout the years. He had always been strong and active. Determined to leave his mark on the world. To grow good young people into good citizens was his life’s purpose both professionally and at home.

The quality of the family relationship was something he was proud of, and when he needed them the most, they moved into his home. As he felt weaker and more tired they were there for him. His children and his ex came back to care for him. The next generation came to visit as well. He was proud of them all, happy they had pursued university education. Most of them had completed degrees or were well into their studies.

It was confusing for his children. Over the past weeks, he had needed to sleep more. He spent more and more time in bed. The trusted family doctor thought it was due to the illness in his digestive system. Something that shouldn’t have been there having grown in a painful and bloody manner. It had sapped his strength and drained away his previously abundant energy.

He had always been good for his age. When he was young he was tall for his age. When he was older he was strong for his age. Now he felt his age. All seven decades of his life had caught up with him over the past fortnight. He was still a big man but he had been scarily losing weight.

His mind started playing tricks with him. It was like he had turned up for Maths class with only his Geography equipment. Everything didn’t fit, he felt like he didn’t belong there. When was he? Even that was becoming less clear.

“What day is it? Why are they wanting me to leave? Have I done something wrong? It’s my house. You can’t take me out of my own home. What are you going to do with me? I don’t like the way you are looking at me. Leave me alone. Go away. I need to be at school. I need to be in charge.”

I think therefore I am? – How Much Is Enough?

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

How much is enough? This is a question not asked often enough of ourselves.

Many of my patients had been saving their fun times, their big and only overseas trip until their retirement. I’ve witnessed many tragedies as people retired and become unwell. The opportunity to enjoy their hard-earned reward stolen from them by illness. Falling unwell soon after retirement. Going from the working life to the dying life within a matter of months.

Balance must be sought and acted upon. That’s what my Aunty Helen always tried to teach me. It is good to scrimp and save but enjoy yourself along the way, as you may never get the chance to. I’ve seen it in the stories of the patients I look after. They saved up all their enjoyment until the end but were too unwell to enjoy anything.

Working in palliative care you’d think we’d learn the lesson – life is too short. Seeing this stark reality daily through others’ experiences could act as a stimulant to action. Often it doesn’t, we practitioners are just as human, just as blind as everyone else. It won’t happen to me. I’ll be one of the lucky ones. But it could. Happen to anyone.

Are you still working towards your goals and values? Are you being true to yourself and your life mission?

How much is enough?

It depends on who you ask, everyone will have answers which match their bespoke lives.

How much money is enough?

How many investments owned is enough?

How many degrees studied is enough?

How many books written is enough?

How much time is enough?

Never enough time.

Guest Post – Naomi’s Notes – Plumb Job

Photo by Ivan Samudra on Unsplash

I had a problem with my hot water cylinder so I phoned a plumber to fix it. In my bathroom were two signs one says, DEATH IS COMING WITH EVERY BREATH and the other, WHAT WOULD I REGRET IF I DIED TODAY?

The plumber was attending to the water cylinder and I was in the kitchen having breakfast. He asked if he could use the bathroom to wash his hands. He went out to his van a couple of times to get some tools and each time, I see him looking at me.  When he finished the job he gave me some instructions and then just stood there looking sheepish.

I drank my tea.

Then he said to me, “that’s very interesting those signs in your bathroom.”  

I  drank my tea

“You know, life is for living, you don’t need to be depressed and think about death all the time,” he said to me. “There is joy out there you just got to go and look for it. If you think about death all the time that’s not good. I am a Christian and we don’t think about death we think about living. Perhaps you should try that.”

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Palace of Care – Living every moment

Living every moment when you’re dying

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In New Zealand last week we celebrated Hospice Awareness Weak and to tell you the truth I’m not sure how impactful the week actually was. Continue reading