Friday, 20 August 2010

End of the line?

My parents' last neighbours were contemporaries; a couple of similar age to themselves. The husband, by coincidence, had the same given name as my father. When they first moved in, the neighbours seemed in good and similar health to my parents. When my father died in 2002, the neighbour husband's health was deteriorating but he was battling on, surviving periodic hospitalisations. The neighbour wife's health remained extremely good.

Last March my mother passed away. Neighbour husband's health was pretty poor by then but he continued to confound fears as one hospitalisation followed another. Neighbour wife, meantime, remained impressively healthy; no mean feat considering the stress and pressure she must have been under caring for her husband.

About eight weeks ago neighbour husband was admitted to hospital yet again - his 22nd admission to my hospital from memory - and I doubted he would survive this time yet once more he did following a stay of about three weeks. On his discharge, neighbour husband told me he thought that he had another two admissions in him.

This afternoon, neighbour husband was admitted again. The doctor's reasons for today's admission include the phrase 'end stage heart failure'. I'm not a medical professional but that sounds somewhat final and definitive to me. During the admission neighbour husband confided to me that this life 'is not fun', that he is 'ready to go' and that if his doctor could 'shortcut it' then that was OK with him.

Neighbour husband looked really terrible today but then he looked terrible in the previous stay and yet recovered sufficiently to return home.

During his earlier stays, neighbour husband thanked me for perceived favourable treatment at admission and in room allocation which he put down to my influence at the hospital. As a volunteer I have no influence in the hospital but it seems to comfort neighbour husband to think otherwise.

I wondered why neighbour husband had made those comments to me today; the first time he had indicated such thoughts in my presence. Perhaps he thinks my volunteer influence extends to issues of life and death.

I certainly would not want such power but I fear that this time the end may be near.

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