Three cheers for health service

MacMillan Nurse Louise Marley at the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield
MacMillan Nurse Louise Marley at the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield

A change of tack from my jolly community piece. The Stamp household has recently become less than jolly as we care for Geraldine’s dad who has terminal lung cancer.

Hands up those caring at home for someone with dementia, cancer or other life threatening illness. Yes a lot of hands going up!

A bit about our journey. Diagnosis in April; moved to our home with mum to enable palliative home care to be given; a battery of tests at the Royal Derby confirming the diagnosis with a very short life span. This was followed by a mixture of hospital palliative treatment, bewilderment and fears mixed with stoicism.

Our home changed from a quiet home for two retired parents to a busy family centre as daughters, sons and grandchildren and friends came to offer support, which was increasingly welcome as Geraldine and I needed to take short periods of ‘you time’ away from providing constant care.

However what became apparent was the ‘metaphorical’ health services ‘JCB’ which purposely but quietly moved in ahead of us to clear away ALL unnecessary difficulties and make dad’s progress towards end of life at our home both dignified and as peaceful as possible.

The cancer specialists and ward staff at the Royal, the GP services, GP out of hours, district nurses, palliative assistants night and morning, Macmillan nurses on 24 hour call giving help and advice to both dad and all close to him and Treetops nurses who come and give the family some respite. All were silently co-ordinated and choreographed.

As I write this, dad is struggling on, the care nurses have just arrived and we are waiting for another visit from our local minister whose spiritual support has been likewise fabulous.

So, although we are very sad, I know if dad could he would say, “Three cheers for the health services’.