Comfort Of A Stranger

A woman, who also has a little girl my daughter’s age, shares similar concerns about having cancer.  Should our life be taken away, we felt we would be abandoning our children, and pained that we hadn’t had enough time to teach our daughter how to take care of herself throughout life.

Ironically, each patient left me with a comfort, something stronger than I can explain.  They also expressed that what I did for them was special and beyond words.  Since the extent of my contact with them is over the telephone, I rarely have the privilege of meeting them.  I have taken up several offers to meet, and glad to have done so.  We are all human, and that closeness isn’t always apparent, unless you’re face-to-face.

That gentleman who had the heart attack kept asking for us to share a meal – even though he was barely eating.  I promised that we would have lunch after the summer was over and my daughter returned to school.  Unfortunately, that day never came.  This is why we shouldn’t put off for tomorrow what we can do today.

I think for me part of the reason I keep that distance is to avoid putting so much more emotional stress on myself.  Over time, I become close to the patient, and we create a friendship that is inexplicable.  I am a very emotional person.  It’s true that I cannot watch people die, but I can try to help them live.

 

Thank you for reading.  There will not be a new post next week, but I wish you all a Happy Easter!

Be well.

Too Many Losses

Later on, an older gentleman who initially didn’t seem open to sharing his deepest fears, kept asking me to call him and not forget him.  So I realize that for some, just knowing someone is there is enough.  After a few months, he had a heart attack, and never recovered from an already weak physique.  He sadly passed away only months following the attack.

Conversations with many of the patients or caregivers stretched for months and years.  Sadly, most patients have passed, except one that I kept in touch with for a number of years – a French gentleman I was paired up with over a decade following his total gastrectomy.

I have discontinued contact with some patients who were doing very well after several years, in order to make room for the newly diagnosed – the ones needing more support and requiring more of my time.  Regrettably, a previous patient took a turn for the worse, and is no longer with us.  Due to the language barrier, I was in contact with her daughter mostly.  She had put in a call to Hope & Cope to let me know, so I called her to see how she was doing.

 

Share a story here that impacted your life…

Be well!

Patricia

C-Difficile

As a peer mentor, I only speak to patients on the telephone, even though I’ve met a few of them.  I was not able to put myself in a hospital environment unnecessarily, and risk catching any of the bacteria that was circulating in the hospitals, like C-Difficile – a serious intestinal condition, which was active in many hospitals for several years.  But there are volunteers trained to attend to patients within the hospital as well.

My body was still weak, and even a cold would not be good for me.  Various bacteria have proven to affect me during lengthy hospital visits.  One morning spent at the hospital with my husband and his mother, both having a scheduled colonoscopy, left me with an infection requiring antibiotics.  I remember being in the tiny, crowded waiting room, and one of the patients sitting in a wheelchair close by had a terrible cough.  I knew I was doomed.

Since I am a very shy woman, peer mentoring is my best option.  I feel that my best exchanges have been on the telephone.  I love being face to face with people, but I can be more open when I’m not.

 

Welcome back!  Hope you all enjoyed the break.

Patricia