GLIOBLASTOMA & BLINDNESS

A glioblastoma is type of cancerous brain tumour.

Despite securing a medical school place the I do still want to continue volunteering at my local hospice which I have been doing for over 2 years now. It has been a very rewarding experience and helped me to develop a lot of skills. Every so often, during my volunteering I meet an interesting patient who makes me think about things a little deeper. So today I would like to share the case of a new patient at the hospice.

I turned up at the hospice at 5pm, like I do every Friday and the nurse gave me a brief handover about which patients were eating, who had had their medicines and some other relevant information. She told me that a particular patient was ready to eat so I could take her meal down to her. She mentioned that this patient was blind due to a glioblastoma she had. This patient had just arrived today so the nurses weren’t as familiar with her needs and were unsure about whether she would be able to feed herself. The tumour had affected her visual cortex as well as other parts of her brain leading to blindness, a change in her personality as well as a lack of self awareness.

This made me think about how vulnerable this particular patient must be feeling. She had recently lost her sight and was in a foreign place without any familiar people around her. The nurses did assist her with eating, but she soon became very agitated, asking where the relative that was with her earlier had gone. The patient’s children were on the way to visit her so the nurse did try her best to reassure her that she would have someone with her soon. But she still seemed uncomfortable and said that she wanted to go for a walk outside.

A few of the nurses came to help her up and support her with walking outside. She took a few steps until she was outside her room and then began sobbing and shouting really loudly saying that she didn’t want to go anywhere. She was clutching on the nurse’s arm and feeling around the wall and her room door with her hands desperate to acquaint herself with her surroundings. The nurse asked her whether she wanted to go back inside her room, but she refused that too. She just stood at the door crying and not allowing anybody else near her.

It was so heartbreaking to see a person so distressed. Suddenly losing a sense as key as your sight is something none of us can comprehend. It was so important that the nurse with her was patient and gentle with her. She was clearly in a very vulnerable place so displaying empathy and understanding were key in helping her to calm down. The nurse had to build the patient’s trust in her so she would feel comfortable with her and she did eventually go back into the room and sit down.

Many of us take things like our sight for granted and to suddenly lose it must be so difficult and frightening. Displaying compassion in caring for every single person is vital as only they know what they’re going through, something none of use will be able to even imagine for ourselves.

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