Sunday, 11 November 2012

Being with the dying

Last night I was called to the hospital because my poorly friend had been asking for, and was being given, a lot of morphine and the consensus was that he might lose consciousness in the next few hours.

I took the call during the interval of  Vaughan Williams' Pilgrim's Progress. Reassured by medical staff that I could stay for the second half and watch the hero die, I did so, before heading off to be with my friend whilst he did the same.

When I got to the hospital the opiates were indeed doing their job. He was very sleepy. We dimmed the lights, I held his hand and, stuck for other conversation, treated him to a rather poor critique of a very poor production as he drifted off to sleep.

Once I was assured that he was both asleep and would "live 'til morning", I came home. I slept, showered and cleared my diary.
I returned to the hospital today prepared for the last 'vigil', however long that might take.

I found him, sitting up in bed, asking not for morphine, but a Macdonalds chocolate milk shake, and wanting to know why he hadn't had any visitors all day.

Now I have a clear diary for the week. Result.
To be with the dying is a roller coaster. It has its highs and lows. It is a privilege like no other, and makes me feel very alive.

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