Today I was also able to spent quite a bit of time with a patient who had been suffering from a brain tumour. I was able to follow her journey in the hospice as I was volunteering here when she was first admitted. I noticed that her health had significantly improved throughout the past few weeks: when she first came she couldn’t make sense of her words, she wouldn’t eat anything at all and wouldn’t sleep; and today she seemed so much more relaxed, was able to hold a conversation with me and enjoyed eating her meal. I was delighted to see her in a much better condition and especially upon hearing the news from her that she was going to be going home soon.
I spoke to one of the nurses as despite my happiness, I was surprised that she was being sent home. I learnt that many of the patients at the hospice are admitted and then sent home later as their condition improves a little. This was quite interesting to learn, as I thought a hospice functioned in only keeping patients who will continue deteriorating until they pass away. I was not aware that a patient could actually improve in their condition despite their illness still being terminal. I also learnt that many patients are originally admitted to a hospice for symptom control purposes and some patients are brought in on a trial period in order for the doctors to monitor them so the best medication can be prescribed. The nurse told me that there is quite a lot of patients who return home and then do have to come back to the hospice again after that. She said that it is really emotional and heart breaking to see a patient have to come back in a worse condition than which they would have left a few months ago.
With the case of the patient with the brain tumour, I knew that she had been going for radiotherapy on a weekly basis and the nurse I spoke to confirmed that this treatment had really improved her condition. Upon speaking to the patient herself and asking her how she feels her condition has progressed throughout her stay at the hospice she told me that she feels like a “new person”. She confided in me that when she first came in, she couldn’t see anything, couldn’t recognise everyday objects and felt she had “completely lost the plot”. It was incredibly interesting to learn that she was able to recognise the change within herself too and the fact that she really appreciated the care that she had received. Despite her cancer not being cured, I think that being able to provide a patient with the correct level of care so that they feel satisfied is a major success within itself. I find the story of this particular patient really inspiring as I was able to see the direct impact the treatment and care she was provided with had on her. Being able to see this change in a patient greatly motivates me to want to be able to impact other people’s lives in such a way.