I have now been away from home for over 3 months. It is difficult to be away from your husband, children and grandchildren – your entire support system. I have missed birthdays, family celebrations and Christmas. Yet, despite being away for so long, I have found great solace in my daily trips to St Catherine’s Hospice. I will now continue with excerpts from my personal diary, as I navigate the in-patient programme at St. Catherine’s.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Ann-Marie, Day-Therapy staff nurse, phoned this morning to say Auntie Irene would be admitted this afternoon to the in-patient unit. Thankfully, she would attend her Monday, Day-Therapy session first. In my own mind, it was important for this transition to be carefully navigated and seamlessly executed. So, I felt a surge of relief knowing she would see all her friends in Day-Therapy and then be admitted.
Bill, our Monday driver, picked both of us up from home. Auntie had packed her little suitcase and was happy to see Bill. She told him “As hard as this is, St. Catherine’s feels like family to me.”
After lunch Ann-Marie escorted both of us downstairs to the in-patient unit. Auntie Irene had a lovely room with double-doors opening to a sensory garden. We unpacked and sat in the garden. It was lovely to feel the sun on our faces, as we enjoyed tea and biscuits. Auntie said, “I feel like I am on holiday, sunshine, flowers and a spot of tea.”
Later in the day, a resident specialist nurse (Simon) and staff nurse, (Laura), came by to review Auntie’s history and concerns. They listened intently to Auntie’s life story, in-depth questions, fears, cares, and concerns. The entire procedure was unrushed, genuinely caring and so dignified. As I sat there, a quote came to mind from the book I was currently reading: “Without adequate medical care, dying can be horrible. With skillful medical care and attention to the personal experience of the patient and the person’s family, dying can be made bearable. When the human dimension of dying is nurtured, for many the transition from life can become as profound, intimate, and precious as the miracle of birth.” (Dying well, Ira Byock, M.D.)
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Auntie was very excited today, as she was given a walker. She walked so fast, that the nurses and doctors called her “Speedy.” She laughed and loved being the centre of attention. Auntie said: “Let’s walk to The Mill and have a coffee. Nicola, will be there, she brings my daily menu.” Upon arrival at The Mill, Nicola stopped at our table to say hello and Auntie said, “Everyone knows me here, I feel so special.” It was heart-lifting to see her so happy.
Personal diary entry
I am personally finding this time very hard. The emotion of watching someone slowly deteriorate is not easy. I realise I have so much to be thankful for. Auntie is well-looked after, happy and still relatively independent. I, myself, have had a few emotional breakdowns, but both Bernadette and Dr. Fletcher have always been available to talk with during these difficult times. As a family member, it is amazing how the hospice becomes such a place of comfort. Not only are therapists available to talk to you, but also nurses and doctors. Everyone understands the ups and downs of the emotional roller-coaster you are on. I find the hospice has become my island in a storm.