Jane Arzts - Patient Relative

“The nurses along with the doctors and the whole team delivered care and compassion, enabling Mum a safe environment to die with dignity. For this incredible resource of Hospice, the Island is truly blessed.”

 3 v2

"Mary was my mum. My recollection of her from my early years, was she would be layered up with colourful knits, trousers with the most amazing surgical embellishments to prolong the life of the garment, not without a faint bovine fragrance she carried with her.... Born in 1945, near Birmingham. The story goes that whilst making her way into the world a last bombshell had been dropped in that very city. The war done, however, her life would be shadowed in the aftermath with years of hardship and need followed.

Fast forward sixty plus years onto this Emerald Isle to 2014. Mum had struggled with her health for probably the last ten years, having been diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2008 and not wanting to acknowledge it.

The story begins. Nobles Hospital X-Ray department and Mum was and had been struggling in silence with her gung-ho approach to life and an equal amount of denial. Anyway, a CT scan had been arranged and I went with her. The scan had taken its toll on her and she looked awful. I had a thought on leaving the department and quietly asked the radiologist to send the scan to the A&E Department directly. She looked at me with thoughtful eyes and I think she could sense my anguish and Mum's apathy of life ebbing away. Then, which seems like moments later the doctor would deliver the news. In A&E, she spoke 'I’m so sorry, there is nothing to be done. The scan shows cancer in your bowel, lungs and liver. I'm so sorry again’. Mum was admitted and stayed in Nobles for two weeks to be given several more blood transfusions and care.

A nice lady also named Mary from Hospice came along and enquired, if Mum would consider a two week convalescence time in Hospice as there was one free bed. A time for Mum to reflect on this diagnosis and what her plans would be going forwards. Mum was a very strong willed lady and I really didn't know if she would take it or realise what a marvellous opportunity this was to be. She said that the Hospice porter would collect Mum in the morning at 9am. The next day I was waiting with mum all packed up, laden with bags, coats and a little trepidation.

What happened next was such a heart-warming experience, which speaks volumes of the compassion of that the charity oozes! Two of the nicest blokes arrived at the ward both wearing the sunniest smiles you ever did see! I quickly gathered up Mum's possessions.

The porters and it’s with great shame I cannot recall their names but their faces and kindness l shall always hold dear. The first porter announces "Good-morning, is it Mary?" To which Mum replies with a smile and a nod. The second porter gently introduces Mum to the wheelchair and taking her lead, patiently guides and reassures her. Whilst his colleague looks to me in the shadows, weighed down with all her chattels “Now then”, he begins, “Let me take those bags from you and you can concentrate on your mum.” As I shedded the heavy baggage, my eyes filled. I took a huge deep breath and had a word on myself to be strong. The guy swirled Mum round on what seemed like a sixpence calling back to us "We are going to take care of you both now" to which my eyes leaked profusely. Mum didn't shed a tear for the entire duration. As we entered reception there was a warmth that greeted us. I cannot really explain it to this day.

I do recall a nurse welcoming us and a mini tour quickly given followed with a steaming cuppa in the airy communal space with light streaming in and sweeping views of far flung fields. Mum was settled in a jiffy and I was ushered in. Mum was sitting in a recliner looking very much at ease and chatting to a nurse, and I noticed the nurse was kneeling beside Mum. The chair was cosiest red soft leather and for the first time she looked, well I want to say, she looked safe, or perhaps I felt safe. I was probably in shock, myself being the only child so the passing over of the reins was much welcomed. An outreached hand within the despair, to guide us down this dark street we found ourselves in.

Stepping into Hospice that day felt almost a holy place.

The team quickly assessed Mum and her needs and wishes. The first step was to get her strength up and possibly to bring her to live with me, so the preparations were made. Unfortunately, as Mum's illness progressed, this seemed an unlikely scenario. The team had lots of meetings and the weeks rolled on to three and four to try to come up with a plan. Christmas preparations were going on in Hospice and the festival of trees was to be entered. This year a tree made of wool pom-poms of which Mum made lots.

The time spent in Hospice with Mum was very special. We probably spent more time the two of us in those six weeks than in our forty five years as Mum and Daughter. I bustled in one afternoon, with two pots, a bag of compost and tulips. Wanting to make a memory, she had loved her garden. Mum was horrified at first that I was going to make a mess, but the staff supported me, with making this memory and all was well received. So maybe you may spy a small pot within the Hospice garden of white tulips, so Mary's flowers live on.

When you are in that crazy world of waiting and roughly knowing of an expiry date; strange things materialise and certainly that was to happen. That November will be eight years ago as I write these words and the ghost of Christmas past was waiting in the wings....

When we got to about week five, the team decided Mum was to initially be moved to Ramsey. However, it was agreed to let her stay as moving her would be a most painful trip as her liver was now failing. Mum was a little superstitious and she always said when making a bed "A diamond in the bed, that'll be a death." It was a particularly dank day that day, the mist that is consuming along with bone chilling driving rain.

Mum was in and out of sleep, having needed some painkiller of the morphine form when she announced out of the blue "it wasn't in the bed today." I think erm, that's random, but enquired further, she reveals: "I look for the diamond each day as the nurse changes my sheet, how will l know when it’s my time?" Oh bless her. I distract the situation with the TV and try to silently swallow the lump in my throat...

Mum had a strong faith and found great comfort from Reverend Richard Hooton who would take her funeral. Richard became and is a true friend to the family.

The nurses along with the doctors and the whole team delivered care and compassion, enabling Mum a safe environment to die with dignity. For this incredible resource of Hospice, the Island is truly blessed. Thank you."

Daughter Jane

Mary died 13-12-14

Back to top image