Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Love to the end

We went to visit, for a short time, our friend whom I mentioned the other day (in the post I accidentally deleted) who has terminal cancer.  We have promised that one or other of us will call in to see him every day.

I mentioned that the hospital, which has received a fair bit of bad publicity for its care of the elderly following inspections recently, had upset him very much - or rather, an insensitive doctor had.  Apparently, the doctor asked if he'd been told what was wrong with him.  He replied that he'd been told there was a blockage.  "It's no blockage, you've got cancer."

This bald statement came as a considerable shock.  He was alone, his family had not been invited to be with him and he had no idea in advance of the diagnosis, never mind the grim prognosis.

Nine years ago last September, my mother was in receipt of similar news.  There was no comparison between the way the two of them were told.  My mother had Wink and me with her and we were told with great compassion by a young and anxious doctor who was trying very hard to be as kind as possible.  All the same, it was a huge shock.

You would not think it would have been.  My mother was desperately ill and, only a few days before, I'd said to her GP - and shocked him by saying it - "is it worth her going to hospital?  She would prefer to die in her own bed, I wouldn't want her to go there and not come out again alive."  He reckoned it was worth it, and the palliative care she received unexpectedly enabled her to have a wonderful quality of life for her final six months.  However, and I cannot understand it but assure you it's the case, whilst we expected her to die within days (and had been told that on her admission to hospital), to be told that she had terminal cancer was still terrible news and oddly surprising.  We all clung together and cried.

Our friend is still able to sit in a chair and was reading the newspaper when we arrived.  We kissed each other, I held him, we talked.  I asked if there was anything he wanted me to do, now or later for his wife.  He suggested that I might help most by shooting him, and we all cried.

What do you say?  I said that I loved him and couldn't bear to think of losing him.  I reminded him of the last time he came round when Chester was still alive, the day before the vet visited.  Chester brightened to see his old friend, staggered over and butted him lovingly in the knees, as he always had.  He smiled, remembering.

Sorry loves, don't mean to upset you, but I know this will.  I'll be back to Normal for Norfolk by tomorrow.

6 comments:

mig said...

Oh I'm so sorry Z and I do feel for you , having been in a similar position recently. It's horrible news that someone you care about has cancer.
How shocking that your friend wasn't told to bring family and that the doctor was so callous.

63mago said...

The realisation of finiteness (Endlichkeit) always comes as shock. Everytime anew.

Bilbo said...

The worst thing is that feeling of total helplessness knowing that there is really absolutely nothing you can do.
My father was given his diagnosis of mesothelioma without me being there. It was a shock even though we knew he was ill and thought his prostate cancer might have spread. We don't know for sure where he was exposed to asbestos but the outbuildings (former piggery) where he lived for 30 years were found to be contaminated.
Hardest to bear was him asking me to put a plastic bag over his head every few days.
I'm a bit of a hypodhondriac as I have real health problems and don't want to leave my wife and 12 year old son for a while yet - it can get in the way of living life to the full while you can though.

God bless you all.

Christopher said...

Very moving, Z. There are special crowns reserved for those who have done as you (pl.) have. Don't know how or where, but there is. And the ones that can never see them are those that wear them. Sorry, this is getting a bit convoluted, but you know what I mean. Good for you.

Deirdre said...

Sorry to hear this news Z, but interesting that I should read it on the same day as "My Dad's a Communist" describes her part in making a film aimed at the medical profession and how they should deal with just this situation. Telling someone possibly the worst news they will ever hear can't be easy, but there is no excuse for your friend hearing it so bluntly, and without anyone there.
Take care of you too.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Z. I've just written (and managed to lose) a much too long comment on your blog entry about your old friend who's in Hospital. I'm not going to rewrite it. Wouldn't have helped much - nothing does. Please accept our very deep sympathy.
Love, Mike and Ann.