Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A patient's journey: If we jumped on the death train, that man would have died.

Dr Leonie Herx is the past President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and chair of the division of palliative medicine at Queen’s University.

I have an example of a very beloved patient of mine, who first came to my clinic asking for MAiD. So, he gave me permission to actually just sit with him and tell him that he mattered to me.

That takes a lot of courage, as a gentleman in his eighties, who's used to being independent and he'd been a single dad. And for me to, he gave permission for me to say "you're worth something just because you're you and you actually deserve to be taken care of." "And what is it that really is going on here?"

He was afraid that he was going to be a burden to his daughter, who is his only child, and that she had to work and had to make a living and he didn't want to have to compromise her quality of life and impact on her by being a burden.

So, we were able to facilitate that conversation and it gave a chance for him to hear from his daughter that she actually valued being able to provide care for him and support him as he had done for her, her whole life.

And I watched them, then, over the next nine to ten months as he lived and got back to being a pool shark and passed all of his pool tips on to his daughter and enjoyed beers with his buddies and everytime I saw him, he would just give me a big hug and say, "thank you for helping me see all the good in my life again." And now he reconnected with his daughter and they had these memories together before he died and he went on to have a very peaceful, natural death.

But that's not an uncommon story in my work. I see that everyday, but if we jumped on the death train, that man would have died and not had all of that year, you nine or ten months with his daughter and that joy despite living with an illness, he found profound joy in his relationship again, with his daughter and his life had good meaning.


jeff f. said...

A very beautiful story. All our lives are important. I accompanied my friend who had rectal cancer. During her pallitive care she was offered euthanasia. If it hadn't been for myself and another friend who visited her everyday, she might have accepted this death. Instead she died naturally a short time later. We were present at her death, when she lifted her head and her hand toward someone she saw coming to accompany her on her voyage into the afterlfe.

Unknown said...

I have a similar story. My mother was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. She was 82 years old and didn't want any treatments. She asked for MAiD which, in April of 2016 was not legal. So she went home and received in-home support. By September her pain levels increased, she went into a profound depression and was admitted to Surrey Hospital. The doctors there were wonderful, got her pain under control and she came out of her depression. She was admitted to Laurel Place Hospice and spent the next 6 weeks in a quiet, supportive environment, a spacious room all her own. Our family, and friends and neighbours visited daily. I started a Visitor's Log, which is so precious to me now, wherein we all shared how the visit had gone. Maybe she slept peacefully, maybe she was awake and talkative. Everyone was able to spend precious moments with her. When she passed on October 2016, by natural means, we were able to gather as a family and know that God had called her home. Without the Hospice experience, she would have died a depressed and angry woman. I am so thankful to Laurel Place and their caring, compassionate staff!

Margaret said...

A good story and so true. We all matter to someone!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story of how love changes the course of these people lives.We forget that when someone terminates their life it causes such pain for those who are left behind .No one should die before their time each person is valuable .Why are we not fighting to save lives rather than fighting to end them.It is so encouraging to here how your love for these people gave them a desire to embrace life as long as they could.thank you for caring and thank you for sharing .Our Heavenly Father loves each of us let us love one another