Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas celebrations at the hospice

Today I went to the hospice Christmas party. The amount of effort the staff had put in was truly amazing. The day hospice room was already beautifully decorated but today so were the staff! They laid out a buffet for us and I actually ate something! Matron came over and said "your eating something... oh my god!" Yeah, ok, my appetite isn't what it was these days. I realised that my rather small appetite has had an impact when yesterday I had a mad dash to the nearest Newlook when I found that what I was actually going to wear to the party no longer even fitted me. Oops.

There was entertainment too, apparently the Spice Girls had been asked to come but they couldn't make it so they asked their mums to come instead but 2 of them couldn't make it, ill with arthritis, 3 of them did turn up and danced around to Spice Girls songs. It was infact 2 health care assistants and a physio assistant in a wig and strange looking outfits... I will put a video up when one of the staff nurses sends me one...
The sister also put on a policeman's hat and we sang (or mimed in my case, no one would hear me under an oxygen mask anyway!) along to the fat policeman song. I have no idea what that was about... Then santa came round and handed out presents, I have a sneaky suspision it was actually the hospice consultant but I couldn't tell properly so I will investigate that one on Tuesday!
After that some of the nurses got up to Jive. The lady I sat next to, M, who also goes to day hospice on a Tuesday is also an oxygen patient at that point got a little teary "I used to be able to Jive" she sobbed. Up until that point I hadn't really thought about how potentially sad such a party could be for some of the patients. It was after another comment from M about some cards she'd had printed that really made me think, she'd had some cards printed and they had spelt here name wrong, she sent them back but didn't think the correct ones would arrive in time but they did and she had a mad rush on her hands to get them out to people because she feared she may not be here this time next year and she said "nobody would want cards with my name on when I might not even be here this time next year". She seemed so blasé about it but I could tell that it was really affecting her. It was at that point I looked around the room at the other 40 or so patients smiling faces and thought, she's right, there's a good chance alot of these people might not even be here this time next year, myself included. I also got a little teary then too but when asked if I was ok? I said it was the heat and one of the nurses opened a door for me. I peered out into the garden and held back the tears.
I had conversation later with another lady that also goes to day hospice on a Tuesday. She's a cancer patient who has been battling cancer for a few years now, along with myself she's probably one of the youngest patients at the hospice (ok so there's still 23yrs difference between us but on average there's 50 odd years between me and other patients!) and she was telling me about her 12yr old son at school. They had an assembly and one of the teachers asked what a hospice was? One of the kids put their hand up and said "it’s where people go to die..." the teacher then agreed. She said her son was sensitive as it was and he went home and questioned her about it. She said with tears in her eyes "I said to him I'm not dying but I could tell he didn't believe me. I phoned his school and explained to them exactly what happens at a hospice and asked them to at least have a word with him and his class". Having said what I've already said in this blog I guess it shows what sort of a variety of patients the hospice really caters for and what some of the different needs are of the people that go there. In my eyes the hospice is a happy, lively, beautiful place that I'm glad to attend. It’s a place of life and peace. Today I saw people with all different illnesses come together and every single person in that room at some point was smiling, even the ones that couldn't speak, smiled too. That to me says alot about what hospices are about, although some people will spend their final days there, it is a place of life and a place that should not be feared.
I'll leave you with a short clip of some of the staff that made today as wonderful as it was…

Remember most hospices rely solely on local fundraisers and donations and receive very little funding, if any from the government. To make a donation to Willow Wood
Click Here.


Mad Asthmatic said...

I am so glad you had a good time Rachy, I have had known several people whose lives have been helped by local hospices and know how vital they are.
I hope that you and your family have the most wonderful christmas and that next year sees your greatest wish come true.
love and hugs

loulou said...

It sounds like you really got 'stuck in' and had a great time. You're right, listening to others brave stories is truly amazing. I admire your bravery and courage during this challenging time.

I can tell you have a great spirit through your writing and I hope that you have a lovely Christmas!!! Have u made a Christmas wishlist??

Lu xxx

Tiffany said...

Hi Rachael,

I am wondering if you could explain, or have someone explain, the hospice. In the US, a hospice is a place you are only allowed to go to if you have 6 months or less to live and are pursuing no curative treatment. Clearly, that's not your definition in the UK.
Would you mind helping me understand how hospice (and day hospice) works there?

All my best,

Tiffany said...

thank you for explaining. so interesting how different they are. i have been so confused and now i'm not...well. less so. :)

thanks again!

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