Working on the Hospice at Home team is always a rollercoaster. One day, you see your patient, and the next, they have gone or deteriorated significantly. That’s why there are night team members and daily visits. Nights you stay with the patient all night to allow the family members to get some sleep. Day visits revolve around washing patients twice daily and changing their bedding. Usually, while they are in bed, you cannot be squeamish, and nothing should faze you. Like when I went to see Ernie.
He lived in a strange place, a shed in the corner of a wrecker’s yard where he sold motorcycle spares. The main door led into a room with a quarry tiled floor and a table covered with spare parts. Off to the right were two tiny rooms. One had a toilet and basin and constituted a bathroom. The other, a few cupboards and a gas ring, was the kitchen.
In the other room, once the living room was the hospital bed crammed into a corner.
I called as I pushed open the door and gazed at a nightmare. Lying on the floor in inches of urine mixed with blood was Ernie. His catheter had come out leaking urine from him plus the already full bag. He must have slipped and hit his head. I phoned my boss. “I need help here.”
“I’ve never seen so much blood.”
The paramedics only arrived after I had got him into bed. Put a pressure bandage on his head and cleaned the floor. They whisked him off to the hospital.
He wanted to die at home. Once all the leakages had been fixed, he came back. He died a few days later as he wanted, looking out at the busy bird feeder.