Vic was the first Stepping Stone Hospice death.
I was clearing up some filing at the office when I came across Vic’s case notes. Tears ran down my cheeks when I read the observation of the Hospice nurse…
21.11.2012:- Pt gradually getting weak but stable. Pain controlled and up and about
20.12.2012:- Very weak but stable. Pain controlled
3.1.2013 Pt experiencing obstruction. Started on SD (Syringe Driver). Buscopan, Zantac, morphine over 24 hours. Prognosis short
8.1.2013 Pt seen by Dr Sue, very weak. Actively dying. Not eating or drinking. Vomiting much better. Pt still responsive even in deep sleep. Continue SD
11.1.2013 Pt terminally weak but stable on SD. Actively dying. Family up to speed with progress
18.1.2013 Pt R.I.P this am. Peaceful and comfortable at home
Vic’s suffering had been reduced to a couple of lines. A couple of words. No mention of her vomiting blood or did I forget to mention it to the nurse? No mention of her being unable to breathe because of the pain. “Pain controlled”…
The pain of Vic’s death is as fresh as it was a year, a month and 11 days ago.
We have now lived many Hospice deaths. Some have been friends, some strangers that became friends and some strangers that remained strangers. I feel the pain of the mothers whose daughters died in the In-Patient-Unit. I held them and comforted them, but I could not take their pain away. I tried to prepare them for the emptiness that would follow the funeral…the guilt, the anger, the loneliness.
I know that our Nursing Sisters are compassionate and caring. I know that I would want to die in the Unit. I know the staff will light candles to shield me from the harsh fluorescent light…. I hope that Lorraine Msini will softly sing Amazing Grace as I end my journey on earth. I have truly learnt that death is not the enemy. Living is.
I no longer cry for those who are dying. I cry for the ones who are left behind. I cry for the emptiness I have seen in mothers eyes… the raw, undiluted pain… I know that when I see them in a few months’ time they would have learnt to mask that raw, undiluted pain and emptiness in their eyes.