Saturday, 1 February 2014

An End of Life Pathway

They stole you away this morning, those carers
They said that you were in pain.
They asked you if you were suffering
They asked you again and again.

They called it an 'end of life pathway', those nurses
But the rush to use it was wrong.
I begged them last night to inform me
As I needed to share one last song.

They called me to say what they wanted, those carers
To resolve your unease and distress.
Whilst I was conversing with doctors
They acted on what they thought best.

By the time that they reached me, those nurses
Ten minutes had passed and they said
That I was engaged and you were distressed;
They’d given you morphine in bed.

It did just what they wanted, those needles
They pacified you there in your bed
The things that I wanted to tell you
Will now stay forever unsaid.

I wanted a last chance to tell you, my mother
That I loved you from childhood to man
But they stole that last chance from before me
And now there’s no way that I can.

So lie there in peace, my dear mother
Befuddled, be-drugged and so frail
You know just how much that I love you
I am here for the end of your tale.

(Mum died the next morning at 8am)

I lived just 5 minutes drive away from Mum's care home. The day prior to her death I had explicitly asked the matron in charge to contact me if they felt that application of an 'end of life pathway' was necessary. (I had been concerned they seemed overly keen to apply it.) The following morning I was actually on my mobile phone to her doctors' surgery to find out more about the medication involved and to express my worries to them that the care home seemed rather "gung ho" in wanting to apply the pathway. It was at that precise moment that the care home  tried to ring my mobile. (They did not bother trying my landline). They reached me 10 minutes later, but by then they had already administered the necessary medication. I arrived at her home just four minutes later, but never managed to speak with Mum again. I knew she had been fading for days, but I had wanted to speak with her one last time whilst she was still compos mentis. I stayed in her room for the next 24 hrs, and wrote the words above some hours before she finally let go of life. Whilst maintaining my support for the concept of legal euthanasia, I felt her life was ended without sufficient consultation. She had never been in severe pain, although for some months had suffered many indignities that old age and immobility had forced upon her, despite a an otherwise sound and caring regime at her nursing home.

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