The butterfly is a flying flower, The flower a tethered butterfly

Friday, 6 August 2010

Relatives ...

Dignity belongs to the conquered

I was upstairs on the phone when my son called to say that our next door neighbour was here. Originally from Ireland, they have really been good neighbours for all the long years we lived side by side on our little road. And we're used to each others' houses so, I just took a few minutes to finish what I was doing before I went down ... and there he was, dad as I have never seen him before ... in tears ....

Married really young, they have four boys, all now in heir early 40's, all with young families, and I tell you, this mum and dad have done a really good job. Well, one of those sons, a picture of health personal trainer, the fittest of the pack, one who hardly drinks and never touched a cigarette. Apparently he had some trouble keeping the food down and was sent for some investigations with doctors suspecting gallbladder problems. But the second endoscopy showed a tumour - after keyhole surgery to ascertain the spread of the disease, the surgeon came out and told him that he was terminal. And that's why dad was in the state he was in on my sofa, a usually very emotionally strong man, I have never seen him as vulnerable as that! ... and you don't know what to say to him ... so I just sat next to him and held his hand ... and we just both cried ....

He said he didn't know where to go so he came to me, told me even before he told his wife because he didn't know how to tell her ... and I had no idea what to tell him so I sat silent and just listened to him ... and my youngest who let him in just went and made two cups of coffee then just left the room ...

"Would one of your children read the radiologist report with me?"

"Of course, as soon as one of them comes back home, do you want to leave that report with me? ... it's just that they are young and not specialised in this as you know. I don't know, but they may even need to look up some words before they can explain to you"

"It's why I brought it with me" he said ... and he left the report ... and it is 'signet ring adenocarcinoma' that has spread everywhere .... and how will he tell her? ... and the son's wife and children? ....

And so I sat on the net trying to understand what this monster was and why it was given the chance to develop to terminal? Why was it allowed? ... and it just allows itself!

That was nearly two weeks ago and the son has been referred to one of the best hospitals in the country for this sort of thing, although also known for it's palliative care ... and the son agreed to take part in a clinical trial, but he doesn't know if he's on the real thing or a placebo ...

And if this is affecting us the neighbours this way, and it has affected us all, how do those real relatives feel? I know that the patient must be at the center and his welfare is what really counts,

... but this family is now all unwell too ....

Hope? For their sake ....


"Mother Nature doesn't have a bullet with your name on it, she has millions of bullets inscribed with 'to whom it may concern

2 comments:

Hypercryptical said...

Hi Sam,

It is a sad fact that relatives become unwell too and their needs are often overlooked They are often left out of the full picture and feel isolated from their loved ones care.

It is also true that Brits are not comfortable talking about death, and will shy away from this subject, when those who have recently been bereaved attempt a dialogue.

I think this problem comes home to them when they have themselves been bereaved.

Your neighbour is very lucky to have you and your family to offer comfort.

Anna.

Sam said...

Talking about death is a tough subject to most people Anna, and you are right, relatives in Britain are excluded, if the patient has capacity, from being involved in the treatment of their loved one. I personally think this needs to change because the patient is not a stand alone entity, but part of a group of people who have all been affected by his/her affliction.

As for my neighbour, thank you, it was very humbling that he came to me and I tell you, I am very lucky to have them too :-)