Submitted by Anonymous
|I stand at the bedside, holding up an iPad so that my dying patient’s family can say goodbye to their mother, their grandmother, their auntie.
There are about 11 people on the tiny screen ranging from about eight to 50 years old, all trying to keep their tears back as they talk about good memories, a few laughs managing to come through as they share their special moments with each other.
I reassure them that although her eyes are closed and she is not replying, she is gently squeezing my hand to show she can hear, and she is smiling faintly at the happy memories.
They talk for about 20 minutes. I can tell they’re not sure how to end the call. I gently ask the daughter if she’s OK. “Yes thank you” she replies, “I think we’ll go now”. I tell her she can call back anytime, and they all say their goodbyes.
Two hours later, my patient’s son rings, telling me how upset he is that he wasn’t able to join in the iPad conversation as he is isolating at home and can’t stay in the family home with everyone else.
I try to reassure him; I tell him that I am relaying all of the messages from him and his family to his dying mother, and that she is doing her best to let me know she can hear everyone’s messages of love.
I offer to him the chance to have his own iPad conversation, so he can at least see his mother like the rest of the family did. His voice breaks as he declines. He thanks me for looking after his mum, and begins to cry as he hangs up the phone.
I have a little cry myself right there at the nurses station. The nurse in charge, who knows what I’ve been trying to do for my patient today, comes over and gives me a hug. I cry on her shoulder for a few seconds, then a Health Care Assistant tells me a silly joke to make me laugh, and I get back to work.
I’m not sure the HCA realised quite how much I really needed her to make me laugh right then, but it was the one thing that helped me carry on that heavy day.