Friday, 29 August 2014

Darby And Joan


There is one complication of being a nurse in a DGH  ( district general hospital)  and that is you always risk looking after someone that you know.
Over my few years in ITU I am unhappy to say that a few familiar faces have been admitted, and every time it happens I generally make sure that I look after someone else.
It's easier all round if I can be supportive without doing hands on care.

Anyhow ,On my last shift, the lady two beds away from my patient turned out to be someone I have known for many years. Usually robust and  jovial , she looked grey and frail in bed, but I noticed  that she was holding the hand of her husband who looked every inch of his 80 years., in a very firm grip

I was suddenly  reminded of a verse in the 18th century poem " Darby & Joan"  by St John Honeywood( a poem that my old tutor in psychiatric often referred to


"Old Darby, with Joan by his side
You've often regarded with wonder.
He's dropsical, she is sore-eyed
Yet they're ever uneasy asunder."

It's a privilege to be able to witness these sweet little relationship moments, but they are often quite difficult to watch. Such devotion in those twilight years by nature of the beast always leads to one partner being left alone at some final stage.

ITU, Darby & Joan, ...all this came to mind last night when I was locking up he hens for the night.
For just by accident, I happened to look up into the branches of the beech tree that over hangs the field from the old Church yard and there cuddled up side by side on a high branch was the legbar cockerel and hen who were dropped off a week of so ago.
The hen had been bedded down with the rest of the hens but had decided to join her cockerel for the night  up in the tree.
Cockerel and hen
Darby and Joan

It's what we all want for ourselves, but one that probably terrifies the bejesus out of us all

55 comments:

  1. Ah what a lovely post, especially when I got the end and the hen and cockerel showed "human' traits in togetherness as well. John, thank you so much for the heartfelt poem you posted on my comments. xxx Jo

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  2. I am not frightened of old age and I am quite content with my own company, but the chances are given the age difference, I will be left on my own and of that I am absolutely terrified. It is cruel thing to wish upon your life long partner, but I hope I die first. Still, billions have trod the same path before me and I suppose I would survive, in some manner.

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    1. I am seven years older than chris.... And more unfit... The law of averages mean I will kark it first!

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  3. My wife keeps saying that I will outlive her; but I'm pretty sure I won't. You are either there to see them off, or you leave them to solitude.

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    1. Yes you are right Cro..... I shouldn't belly ache about it

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  4. Beautiful!

    Then there was this story in our local paper the other day telling of an older gentleman who walked into the hospital and shot his not-so-sick wife and then turned the gun on himself. She died, he didn't. Maybe she put starch in his underwear.

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    1. A little harsh ........me thinks

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    2. You live on the better side of the ocean, John. Your population is not armed. It is getting worse and worse over here.

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  5. I know I will outlive my spouse, and I am OK with that. I am such an independent little cuss!

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    1. Hope he didn't read this comment!

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  6. What we need is someone to cuddle up with an hold our hand.

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    1. Preferably before we die?

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  7. I remember doing my geriatric placement and a lady leaving her husband in hospital for their first night apart. Remember holding her hand and tearing up with her. Their first night apart, how amazing.

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    1. I think a few nights apart exceedingly healthy!
      But nice story

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  8. This is what I have always hoped for me and H.I. She is about 7 years older than me, and - statistically - men die about that much quicker than women, so it would be good if we don't end up leaving one or another behind for too long. It's her 70th birthday coming up, so we're off to London with everyone else to celebrate.

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    1. Goodness, and there was me thinking you were only about 12! Happy Birthday to your Missus.

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    2. I'm sure you will shave a few years off your total by the end of the celebrations
      Have fun

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  9. I heard yesterday of someone whose mother and father died on the same day, in the same care home.
    It was a huge loss but a great blessing and she was happy that they were still together. The vicar said it was the first time he'd done a double funeral, but what a mercy for them both.

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    1. I would hate if if chris died at the same time......
      Let me have a funeral of my own!

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  10. My husbands mother, father, and dog, all died in his arms at different times.....so I sort of hope I get the same treatment...being held and comforted by the man I love. And no he isn't a murderer and yes it is selfish of me but heyho...x

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  11. "Till death do us part"...so many of us have said it,but it seems so far off when we do...it's a slow realisation.
    Jane x

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  12. Such devotion brings a smile and a tear.

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  13. I watched my dad die by inches as my stepmother held his hand, left behind she had nothing to live for and just gave up . Nobody else grasped it but me.

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    1. How sad......but we should all have someone who loves us at the end........so many people don't

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  14. Yes, it terrifies and saddens me that the depth of our love will inevitably result in equally deep mourning for one of us someday. I resolve to make the days in between worth it.

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    1. May hay when the sun shines

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  15. Cockerel and hen....that must have been a very sweet sight.

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  16. A worse fate is for one's partner/mate to leave far too early. It takes a long time to reconcile it in your head, and you never get over it. It's been 18 years and I still want to talk to her about the kids and get advise.

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    1. regarding your comment on my blog....I'd rather do it by email, if you'll put your add. on my blog I'll delete it afterwards.

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    2. That's so sad. Much love to you. X

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  17. As my husband has survived a couple of serious illnesses and I am as fit as a flea and from a line of long-lived women, we have always assumed that I would outlive him. When I was taken ill last year the whole family (including me) was in shock that our assumption might be wrong ! I have been prepared to be on my own, which has made me very independent, but how D. would fare, were I to go first I really don't know! (We have been together since 1960)

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    1. I am beginning to hate working on ITU
      The place underlines just how fragile things can be

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  18. Lovely post despite the worries of who goes first. It's only by sheer chance that any of us are here in the first place. Don't think about it that's my motto, what will be will be.

    Jean x

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    1. Jean
      So EVERYTHING is a bonus!

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  19. True, true, to be left alone so late in life, IS terrifying.

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  20. Doesn't it show us the futility of life in this world of sand, John? Somebody once said to me that we live in a world of sand. The more we try and grip on to the sand (the things we love), the more it slips through our fingers. I think the best thing we can have is to love and be loved by somebody. Great thought provoking post!

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    1. Another pragmatic view on it Dave
      Thank u

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  21. I saw a very elderly couple walking in Harpenden the other day..each holding the other up, or so it seemed. I was very nearly in tears, but not sure why!

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    1. You feel what you feel eh?

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  22. Beautiful, John. Willy Dunne Wooters and I are not married, but we have vowed to help each other when the final years arrive.

    Love,
    Janie

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  23. It's not something I have to worry about. I'm more concerned about the Islamic State taking over the world, to be honest.

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  24. I rarely if ever think about it John. Life is for living not for brooding on what might be in the future - whatever you think will happen it is almost always something quite different. I enjoy every minute of every day - either with the farmer or with a large circle of friends. Life is far too short!

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  25. It's nothing I ever think about John. I live for the moment.

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    1. The three pragmatists of the last three blog comments sum it all up for me

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  26. Being around my dad's nursing home a lot has made this reality loom larger in the back of my mind. I see all the people there who once had partners and full lives, as I do at the moment, and I see our natural progression toward old age. My husband prefers to not worry about it. And really, what good does worrying do? But still I do it.

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    1. Jenny worrying about it is what we should all do..... Until it happens

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    2. I mean not worrying duh!

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  27. I hope the hubby, child and I live long fruitful lives and that I go in my sleep at 100. But the reality is I have no control over this which is what is truly terrifying. So because of that, I choose to live and enjoy life the best I can. To be honest, I thought about death before, and I volunteered in hospice, but when I got pregnant and had a child, WOW!! That is when mortality really kicks you in the teeth and it has been eye opening to say the least.
    This is why I hate that in the US we do not discuss end of life care. They called it Death Panels here and it was so infuriating. People should prepare because it is so devastating to the families to have to face loss. The last thing anyone wants to do is make the decisions you were afraid to or did not want to deal with. Sorry to rant, but if more people planned, yes loved one will still hurt and mourn, but it will alleviate some serious decision making for them when they can barely think straight.

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    1. An interesting perspective
      As I have never had a child ....I find your thoughts on how things changed provoking

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  28. My city is relatively small and I have from time to time recognised voices when on the crisis line. Something I loathe because it feels like an invasion of their privacy.
    And I loved your description of the Darby and Joan moment you witnessed recently - and your warm and generous heart.

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  29. Such love and tenderness is enriching to observe. For some reason, John, you must have been ordained to be where you are.

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  30. It sucks to get old. So dam undignified. When we were young death was inconceivable. Now in my early 50s some of my contemporaries have assumed room temperature and it some how seems all the closer to home. I do worry about how my better half would fare if I was to not come down for breakfast one day. Better hurry up and get the house repairs done just in case.

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  31. Hubby and I have had this discussion too. We tease each other into arguing over "Who gets to go first!" We both agree that it's gonna suck for whoever gets left behind.

    What scares me more is that (since we don't have kids) the State might interfere if we get REALLY old and can't take care of each other. Here's hoping for the best!

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