Today’s news is ‘Dying Without Dignity’. My beautiful wife died from Pancreatic Cancer on February 4th this year, six months from being diagnosed.
We discussed and made plans for her death and I said I wanted her to die at home. She, however, felt that it wasn’t fair to do so, how will you feel she said?
So we talked to the Pilgrim’s Hospice and a senior nurse came out to see us. The end result was they put us in touch with District Nurse and their own carers. The District nurse came once a week and was superb.
During the last week of her life the District Nurse organised a bed in our front room. My wife now said she didn’t want to leave our home or me, I pulled up the settee and sat next to her for the time remaining.
During the evening less than 48 hours before she died, she said to me that this is our last night together, how she knew I do not know. By the morning she could no longer speak and was very restless, at the end of the day she was in a bad way and was suffering.
I called the out of hours surgery and the doctors came by 2am and she gave my wife a small amount of morphine. By 3:30am she was truly suffering, I called again and within the hour another Doctor came out and gave her a larger dose of morphine, she was then sick even though she was unconscious. The Doctor then called the Hospice before she left and they sent out a carer who by 5am had changed my wife’s clothes and her bed; she was wonderful and caring.
I was then contacted by the Hospice around 7.30 who said we should bring her in to the Hospice. By 9 am their ambulance came to the house, by 10 am they had checked her over and she was in a private room.
I continued to hold her hand, I had promised her that I would hold it right to the end. At 3 pm the priest came, blessed her and prayed over her for half an hour. At 4:30 she left me.
I wanted to stay with her but the nurses said to me, give us five minutes and you can come in, which is what I did. They had placed a rose next to her head and I sat down, again holding her hand, and talked to her for an hour or more, what I talked about I really don’t know.
Why I am putting this on face-book?
It is because the NHS during this period were excellent and coupled with the Pilgrims Hospice were overall wonderful.
Yes there was ‘lack of dignity’ but not to do with palliative care, it was to do with the cancer which made her helpless and the way that I had to help her to cope with it, something no woman would want.
Maybe there is a lesson here a combination of Hospices and NHS it worked for us. Perhaps the government could give a charitable gift to these hospices once a year. The point is it did work and perhaps it is a way forward.