Palace of Care – Fade to Yellow

Photo by Tristan Gassert on Unsplash

In the last days of her life, she was visited by close friends and family members. She conversed with them and still shared her sense of humour with them. To some of her oldest friends, she said her final goodbyes.

One of her best friends asked me if it would be okay for her to have some champagne. I said I would allow it but she wasn’t allowed to drink alone. He went off to buy some. It had to be Tattinger Champagne, nothing else would do. I said she could eat whatever she felt like. A question was asked about cigarettes and again I had no objections. She was dying and she could do whatever she liked that would bring her some pleasure and normality.

“How can you tell that time is short?”

“She’s been deteriorating every day. She has become unclear in her thinking and is needing to sleep more. These are all signs that death is coming soon.”

“How long do you think she has got left?”

“A few days ago we thought she might only have days to weeks left to live. Now I think she only has hours to days left. She could die at any time.”

“Who do you think can come and visit her.”

“I’d recommend only immediate family only and her closest friends. Whomever she wants to see.”

“Will you let our brother know?”

“Sure, we’ll make contact with him.”

The next day four members of the hospice clinical team painted their nails yellow and orange to match their patient’s fingernails. When she woke up she was shown the photos and she was able to enjoy the yellow-clad doctor’s finger and toenails which were all highlighted in bright yellow. The nails gave her and the family something to smile and laugh about in between the tears.

The next morning the Polish team, who were not from Poland, were about to go into the room when the nurse came out to ask the family to come in urgently.

“She’s about to take her last breath.”

The clinicians made way for the family.

She died with the voices of her family telling her how much they loved her.

I think therefore I am? – Eat to Live vs. Live to Eat

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

I love my food, and some (mainly my wife, staff members, and the World Health Organisation) would say I love my food too much. So when I hear about crimes committed against food it really annoys me. Hospital food usually has a bad reputation. Mass produced food in general is usually not as good. The recent trend in New Zealand hospitals is for food to be manufactured in a central location and then for all the food to be transported to all of the hospitals. Though this may make economic sense, it is makes no gastronomic sense at all.

This goes against treatment of patients as human beings. Patients are served unappealing material that may have had a natural origin at some point in its life time. It takes a lot of skill to transform random bits of plants and animals into things that resemble plastic in the way it looks and tastes. Patients are in hospitals because they are unwell, and it does no-one any favours when the food they are served makes them feel even sicker.

A plate of fish and mashed potatoes was an example that my cousin told me about. The fish was dry and rubbery, with all nutritional content having been consigned to the pages of history long ago. The mashed potato had given up its moral integrity. Having once lived in a hole in the ground, the potato had been harshly dragged into the light. Flayed whilst still alive, and then subjected to a death by a thousand cuts. Turned into tiny molecules of potato, smashed into uniform shapes. Then dried out along with billions of similarly shaped friends, and repackaged. Add water to make instant mash potato. Instant it may have become, but potato it was in name only.

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