Our stories. Our lives.

Jim’s Last Wish – A nurse’s reflection

I was on shift when one of our patients, Jim, and his wife Jo had come back from a special trip to Jim’s farm. I got a first hand report on their day out from an exhausted, but very content Jo and Jim.

Jim had recently handed over his farm in the Wairarapa to one of his daughters and her husband. He came into the Hospice service experiencing end stage heart failure.

He and his wife Jo knew that he did not have long to live and he had come into the Hospice’s In-Patient Unit for his last few days. He relied on oxygen and morphine as he was very short of breath and could only walk a few steps on a walking frame.

His last wish was to visit his farm once more and see his dogs, his cat and have a drink with his mates.  His dream came true with the help of Hospice staff.

Jo was supplied with a day’s supply of oxygen. Jim was given extra morphine to take with him in case he needed this on the way. There was enough room in Jo’s van for a wheelchair, his frame and the cylinders.
Apparently the local pub had opened an hour early to accommodate lunch, his mates were there to greet them on arrival, his cat and dogs were very excited. Everyone had a sad but memorable time.

Jim did pass away a few days later. Jo told us that she would remember him amongst his friends and all the events of that tiring but lovely day, when Jim went home to say goodbye.

An Independent Life

Jocelyn Richardson, 74 years young, has her audience rapt. She is telling a story about an incident in Northland many years ago.

She was out riding her three wheeler 1600cc Volkswagen motorbike one afternoon and decided to go to a beach to gather tuatua. Standing in the sea she saw two large Maori men on motorbikes riding along the beach to stop in front of her. She watched them nervously as they walked into the sea towards her wearing their full biking leathers.

“What are you doing?” they asked. “I am hungry,” said Jocelyn and she showed them the shellfish she was gathering. “Oh we didn’t know you do that,” they said and started promptly scooping up the shellfish from the sand and dropping them into their pulled out jerseys. “They had never done this before and I was able to show them,” she says.

Jocelyn is sitting wrapped up warmly in a her cosy Miramar flat. There is a wall covered in dozens of family photographs. “

I’ve been in a lot of pain over the last few days from the radiation treatment. The pain would not go away. You have no idea what the pain was like. I rang the Hospice doctor and he talked me through my medications and what to do and made it go away.”

Jocelyn, a retired graphic artist, is in the care of the Hospice’s Wellington Community team.

“When I first went into the Inpatient Unit I could not eat. Jon the hospitality manager came around every day and he’d sit at the foot of my bed with the next day’s menu. Even if I didn’t like anything he was very patient and would always say – well would you like to try this or that – he got to me eat again.”

Along with care from Hospice’s IPU and Wellington community team she has been a regular visitor to the Day Unit programme in Newtown. “I go even if I feel like rubbish. It is nice to go and mix with other people and eat with other people and hear how they are doing.”

Hospice seen as “home away from home”

If you asked Cora lee Grantham a couple of years ago what Mary Potter Hospice was, she would have said it is a place where people go to die.

Now Grantham says it is a place for living.

In July 2012 her husband Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He was in hospital for three weeks before being sent to the Hospice.

“Things were grim, it looked like he was being sent there to die,” Grantham says. “But we soon found it was all about getting him well enough to go home.”

Coralee Grantham says the care and support they received from the Hospice had a big impact on the extra 16 months she and her two children had with Mark.

She noticed the Hospice was different to the noisy sterile environment of the hospital.
“I sat down and did not know what to expect. Someone offered me a cup of tea and then I just felt I could breathe and relax. We thought it would be all quiet and hushed but it was warm and busy but also serene.”

Grantham says the Hospice became a bit like a revolving door for her family. “When Mark came home, they were always at the end of the phone if we needed them and that gave a sense of security.
“I really felt he was happy when he was there and it became a bit like a home away from home. You can even bring in your animals, it’s like a calm oasis in the midst of all this turmoil that’s going on in your life.”

Mark Grantham died in November last year at the age of 52.

Arthur Rangihuna brought joy to life

Retired refuse truck driver, Arthur Rangihuna, who was in the Hospice service for two years with cancer was an absolute inspiration to staff and fellow patients.

He contracted cancer at the young age of 50. He was cared for in the Day Unit programme in Porirua base, stayed in the In-Patient Unit in Newtown and he was cared for at home by the Porirua Palliative Care Coordinators. Vanessa Eldridge, who undertakes Māori Liaison for the Hospice got to know him well.

“He was a real character and he had a laid back to attitude life,” she says. “ He was always laughing and joking. Humour was a big thing for him. He would rock up to the Day Unit even though he was unwell because he enjoyed the chat and the artwork.He would cheer the other patients up,” she says.

Arthur played the guitar and he was a very talented abstract painter, says Vanessa. In his time in the Day Unit and at home he got great solace from Māori spiritual healers that Hospice introduced him to.