In this short personal essay, Darlene Dyck, a family advisor in Cypress Health Region, describes the positive experience she and her husband shared while he was a cancer patient. Darlene serves on several advisory committees including the Saskatchewan Patient and Family Centred Care Guiding Coalition. Darlene is a strong believer in Open Family Presence policies and practices which seek to enable the family and loved ones to more fully participate in patient care.
Her story is one we hope that all patients and families will experience, regardless of where they receive care in our province.
My personal experience involves my husband Steve’s four year journey as a cancer patient.
We were hospitalized six times in those four years for a total of eight weeks. During those eight weeks, I was never away from him even for an entire morning, or afternoon and I spent every single evening and night with him.
I say “we were hospitalized” because that’s how it felt – we were a team.
I will always be forever grateful for the privilege and the opportunity of staying with him.
Although a hospital is often the last place a person wants to be, there is no place on earth I would have rather been for those days and nights….. the tears, the laughter, the conversations, the shared coffees/meals and even the time watching him sleep are all my forever treasures.
Because I was always there, I was able to expand on his answer of “fine” when asked by staff how he was doing. Maybe he forgot to mention his leg was a little swollen, his appetite was gone, his breathing was more difficult, etc.
Because I was always there (and taking notes & keeping a journal), he could rest while the staff made their rounds as I could answer the questions many times.
Because I was always there, (and kept a medical binder with me with copies of every lab test, procedure reports, results, doctor’s notes, blood pressure charts, medication charts, etc.) I was able to many times save the doctor’s time because I could produce any piece of info at any given moment.
Because I was always there, we caught more than one clinical error and mistake that would have impacted his care.
Because I was always there, I was able to divert cleaning staff, etc. to come back another time so he would be able to keep resting.
Because I was always there, (and had lots of time) I could change his bedding, clothes, get him water, snacks, warm blankets as he needed them and he never needed to bother the nurses with such things.
Because I was always there, his dignity was preserved, as it was me who helped him with all his personal needs.
Because I was always there, I was able to hold my beloved’s hand the whole night and hear the three things he said in the middle of his last night on this earth.
Eternally grateful forever.