What a difference a day can make.
The three of us who have been supporting my friend J. finally managed to meet and exchange phone nos. so we could compare notes. J. has been telling us all different things, not contrary, just managing information so each of us had a piece, but no-one had the whole picture.
We managed to track down her niece through someone in her Church and then I could speak to her and update her on everything. Apparently she has been trying to visit but J. kept putting her off because she was frightened her niece would call a doctor.
Anyway, a couple of days ago we three decided that the time had come to insist to J. that she was seriously ill and we no longer felt we could cope with the increasing necessities of her care. We were dreading it and felt terrible.
Just as I was preparing to leave home a box arrived containing these:
They were from my oldest friend who lives in Southern Ireland, and consisted of white roses and mauve freesias which smelt glorious! They were in mauve tissue, cellophane and tied up with a dark purple ribbon, so pretty. The timing could not have been better: it made such a difference to my day and I felt so supported in the hard task which lay ahead.
When I arrived at J.’s house it was to find that she had spent the night on the floor beside her bed: the emergency services had to come and lift her and get her back into bed for us. It transpired that she had not fallen but had been to the loo in the night, not been able to get up off the loo so had kind of slipped herself onto the floor and crawled out of the bathroom, across the hallway, through her bedroom to the bed but not been able to get up into bed so had very sensibly pulled the covers off and tried to roll herself into them for the night.
I’m afraid that this could not have been more providential. We used this as an indication to J. that if she did not see a Doctor now and take control of her treatment she risked being taken to Hospital over some future incident and would lose control over her treatment.
She understood the sense of this and agreed easily, without us having to insist that she was very ill or that she has cancer. The conversation we were dreading.
At this point her niece arrived unexpectedly for us all, and we sat with J. while we waited for the Doctor to visit. A lovely, gentle, young, lady Doctor arrived while J. was having a nap so we were able to fill her in on the whole story. Then she went to see J. and made her assessment. Never did she insist on any treatment that J. did not want nor did she insist to J. that she had terminal cancer, she just decided to enlist the support services of the Palliative Care Team. She left at 5.45 pm and by 9.00 pm a night nurse had come to sit with J. for the whole night and District Nurses began to come in the very next morning and will be coming twice a day to bathe, dress and help J. get up/go to bed. J. now has a hospital bed in her room which moves and sits her up at the touch of a button, a night nurse and helpers twice a day. Since the weekend was a Bank Holiday over here the Social Services could not be brought in very easily but we are hoping they will come on board this week to come and clean and cook.
J. says she feels much more secure now and seems so happy: she says she has the best of both worlds, support from the NHS and her continuing treatment from the homeopath and herbalist.
Although the day went so well it was actually very traumatic: J. told her niece that she was her Executor and I managed to track down J.’s will which is in store with an on-line will-writing company. Since then I have had long conversations with her niece about what I know and what I can help her with after J.’s death and we all feel that we are working together.
However, J. is still adamant that she does not have cancer and that all her symptoms are just from an exhausted body which has fought off the cancer. She has just rung her pupils to tell them that she will begin teaching again in five weeks!! The Doctor told us that nothing was definite but in her opinion J. only had a maximum of between 3 and 4 weeks left to live. In my experience night sitters are only provided in the last two weeks of life but perhaps calling the emergency services made a difference in this situation. Yesterday J. asked me to contact her builder to get him to come and put a coal bunker at her little cottage so that she would have fuel for her fire when she moves in. I have never met this kind of complete denial before. It appears that she is not even kidding herself but really and truly believes her own reality. Ah well, if that is what is necessary for her, it must be the kindest way to cope.
I finally reached home at 7.30 pm and was so tired I could barely crawl into bed myself. A mixture of reactions I expect. But as I walked into the kitchen the smell of freesias was sweet and fresh and the flowers had opened out:
Where would we be in this world without kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness. I have seen so much of all these today and am truly grateful.