Monday, 30 March 2020

Going Gently

I was worried about my job yesterday. Hospices all over the country are in dire financial need at the moment and I worked hard getting my job in order to keep the cottage .
The prospect of possible redundancies was almost too much to bare

Today, it's best foot forward.
I've cleared out my bookcases this morning and tucked away was a book , which has always been the inspiration for the blog

Most people think Going Gently derives from the poem by Dylan Thomas
" Do not go gentle into that good night,
             Old age should burn and rage at close of day
 
             Rage, rage at the dying of the light"



But it is the novel Going Gently by David Nobbs that is the true inspiration
"The novel is a series of memories, memories recalled by an eighty odd year old stroke patient Kate Thomas, who is paralysed in a hospital bed.
Isolated and unable to communicate , Kate plays in her mind the video of her turbulent life as a welcome relief from the sad and bad old women around her . But it is more than an escape . It is also the search for the truth about life,death , the acceptance of death and which of her three sons murdered her fifth husband...."

The book was a gift from a patient , I thought I didn't get on with very well
Her name was Julia
Paralysed in a car accident , that was in essence her own fault, she was a patient who wasn't patient  at all . She's moaned and complained and became so negative in her rehab that staff started to avoid her. I remember that her son once described her as being able to " suck the lifeforce out of a saint " so difficult she was but I also remember that she was plucky enough to follow the gaggle of younger male paraplegics to gym every morning without fail and to be able to put up with their colourful ribbing and telling off if she complained too much to them, disabled men who would not accept self pity and "kvetching"

I remember one day she called me  " a hard hearted bastard"  to my face , I can't really remember just what it was about , but I suspect I had " encouraged" her rather robustly to do something for herself
" I've been called a lot worse!" I shot back
"I bet you have!" Was Julia's reply

I looked at the book and dusted it off , planning to read it again , in this period of isolation
I hadn't noticed, or indeed remembered that Julia had written in the front of it,
A dedication of sorts
" You Gave Me my life back"
It said
Funny I never got that impression when I nursed her



84 comments:

  1. I like the sound of her.

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  2. Seems like it's a good one, I like the book cover as well. It sucks that people are losing their jobs, not working and that literally all of us are in actual danger. Really hoping it's all over soon and that we can go back to normal.

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  3. "You gave me my life back" is a fine testament to your nursing expertise. Instead of cold-shouldering Julia, you accepted her fiery individuality and provided her with genuine care. She also wrote "With love" - a phrase that someone like Julia would not use lightly.

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    1. I was surprised too
      I remember constantly bollocking her for stubbing her butt ends in my plant pots ( I had a large balcony garden as part of my ward)

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  4. I cannot understand why hospices are not government funded. Just seems crazy they have to rely on charity.

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    1. I suspect that, in normal times, they may be able to function better without the constraints, rules, regulations and top heavy management that government bodies often struggle with.

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    2. Jac that's true I guess. But I am still worried, greatly

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  5. I am sure a nurse of your experience will not have to worry about employment - but is must be stressful when you seem to have found a role that suits you.

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    Replies
    1. So young, yet so experienced. You will be needed, surely.

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  6. Anonymous11:47 am

    Awww. That's a great book. Always remember that you have affected many people in many positive ways who will remember your kindness.

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  7. Not a wimp. Neither of you.

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  8. I do hope that government will provide emergency funding for hospices. They're far too important. What a lovely book inscription xxx

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  9. Praise indeed John x

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  10. We never know the effect we have on other people’s lives. I have been totally stunned when several people have said to me that they often say to themselves ‘what would she do in this situation’. I find it very humbling.😘

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  11. I think this may be the same book or similar that when my mum had a stroke in 1990 and was in a young persons rehab centre which sadly didn't "work"as she had another illness- her cousin gave her the book to read-this cousin had previously read it after having a brain tumour removed.The lady recovered and is now in her late 70s x

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    1. I am not sure when it was originally written

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  12. John, this story must give you a sense of how well you have done/do your job. Makes all the frustrations seem worth it in a way. Most people never get feedback as to their performance.
    What a treasure that book is.

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    Replies
    1. I'm a big advocate on feedback jimbo x

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  13. I said the same to a physiotherapist not so long ago. It's the highest compliment and 100% genuine

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  14. I haven’t read that particular book, but there is another sad bittersweet one I’d like to recommend:
    “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. It’s about two cancer patients who fall in love. There is also a film with the same title.

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    Replies
    1. I may put this one on hold for a few weeks x

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  15. We never know the effect we have on the lives of others.

    Sending hugs across the ocean.

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  16. As the youngest in a large family I often found listening and watching more rewarding than being one of eight voices in our home. That fostered a life long habit of quietly studying the world.

    Noticing the patterns in all that lives has convinced me of there being no coincidences in life, that everything happens when it does for a reason .

    All that to say- I believe Julia's message was written for you to find now. Everything you do for others, for one or for many, matters.

    In a world of broken people not all of us can feel gratitude, or realize what and who we should cherish, or know how to express our appreciation for whatsoever is profoundly valuable.How wonderful that Julia could and did. - Mary

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    1. I remember passing the ward office when I was doing paperwork
      And as she passed she would occasionally flip me the finger

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  17. Somehow today I can't put into words what I wanted to write, but the inscription in that book should show you how much of an effect you had on her life. How serendipitous that you should dig it out now to re-read just now.

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    Replies
    1. Serendipity is the word of the past 18 months, one day soon I'll write about this freely xx

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  18. Well. There you go. A message from the past. One possibly sorely needed.

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  19. I think the song lyric is "sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind." Stay strong, you make a difference in the lives you touch. Hospice is a critical part of the full spectrum of health care, hopefully the funders will realize that without it, many more people would be in much more expensive hospitals designed to provide less appropriate care.

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  20. I am a long time reader but have never commented before. I love your eclectic blog, never knowing quite what I will find. You have made me laugh and made me cry at times. I am so sad to hear your fear of redundancy after fighting a long hard battle to own your own home. Like many readers, I did not realise Hospices were totally reliant on charity. I am going to make a donation via the website and wonder if other readers might like to do likewise. There have in the past been many offers to fund you and in this way I can support both the hospice patients and the wonderful caring staff too. My thoughts are with you at this incredibly difficult time. Sheila

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    1. Shiela
      Thank you. Andwelcome dearheart....I may start some sort of donation page to help keep us going x

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  21. One never knows what little acts of kindness or simple humanity may affect others!

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    Replies
    1. Or even a potty mouthed bit of encouragement !!

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  22. Anonymous3:18 pm

    Hi John. I found your blog a couple of years ago and then discovered the book in a second hand shop. I wondered if they were connected given your nursing background.
    I still have that book , one of the funniest, most moving books I have ever read.
    If anyone deserves to keep his job in these uncertain times it is you.
    Your caring, kind and unselfish nature is a lesson to us all
    Would that there were more such as you.
    God bless you John
    Regards Jayne

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  23. I would hate to have to a worry about my job amid all this other hell in the world right now. And, yes, it’s always best foot forward I think. Not much else you can do. The gift of the book is exceptional. I’ve been surprised at times in parting with someone during one of our moves by gifts like that with surprising inscriptions. In one disastrous position I had excepted and immediately regretted, i thought I was completely ineffectual and an awful manager. One of my managers gave me a book and wrote thanking me for being the best boss he ever had, a role model, and an inspiration professionally and personally. I was dumbfounded. He’s gone on to have a phenomenal career and every so often, he’ll write to thank me for what he learned from me. Well, what do you know!?!

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  24. I shall now try to get hold of that book if I can John - a book that inspired you is going to have some effect on me too - because you are a constant inspiration to so many of us.

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    1. I'd love to hear youreview of it pat x

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  25. These are indeed tough times for the entire world. What a great story I never knew about how your blog was named. I think you needed that forgotten message now more than ever. We all do. Hugs from across the pond.

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    1. Thank you, hugs are a rarity at the moment xx

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. oops, too many typos in above. I loved this book as well. Only know the title as coming from the book. Such a good script writer and author. Nice to find that you had made a difference to the difficult patient even if years have passed. I'm sure your job needs you and maybe government will have to step in re funding. Stay safe, love Janx.

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    1. It's a great story and a moving read

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  28. My 67 young neighbor Lori is dying from COPD and has been transitioning for the last two weeks. Has taken no food in that time, a little forced water - we don't expect her to last this week. Of course there can be no funeral if she goes - a memorial service after the virus. She has been under Hospice care for about 6 weeks - they attend to her here at home, nurses, personal care assistants, spiritual visitors, all come - and thankfully covered by Medicare insurance. I admire those healthcare workers always, but now even moreso. Do they not have Hospice care at home in the U K John? I can't recall if one has to go into a facility such as where you do your good work.

    Thanks for sharing Julia's story - so many people have a lot to contend with and we healthy ones should be so thankful. I will keep you in my prayers, that your job remains safe, and that you stay healthy. Do take care.
    Hugs - Mary

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    Replies
    1. Yes we have hospice at home and outreach here but it depends on the hospice in your area ...all hospice card in the uk is charity based

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  29. I hear ya. Just as I went to click on your blog, I found it we are mostly likely getting furloughed till may.

    Lots to think about.

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    1. Hope you get through this dearheart xx

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  30. I always wondered why the blog was called Going Gently. Thanks for the explanation!

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  31. Barbara Anne5:23 pm

    I hope all of the Julia's have a nurse like you and fellow patients like the disabled men as all of you encouraged Julia to do the best she could.

    Hoping that you and all others keep your jobs as you're so needed where you are.

    Hugs!

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  32. Sounds like she was acting out a lot of frustrations on all the people around her. Clearly she really appreciated you and your work!

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    1. I never remember any of that. She was just a " difficult " character as I recall

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  33. My daughter works for a non profit as a teacher of high needs and at risk children. She is in exactly the same situation of worrying about losing her job. On the other hand our government is paying 75% of the salaries for businesses and organisations that would otherwise have to lay off staff. Unfortunately it will be when this is over, the assistance stops and with funds exhausted the lay offs will begin.

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  34. I wrote a rather melancholy post today. I need to remember the poem by Dylan Thomas and Rage against old age! This damn virus has us all down.

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  35. I am glad that you found this difficult, feisty woman's message now. Now when it is needed.
    And feel sure that there are a myriad of people who could/would echo her words.

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  36. Does anyone you know work in the media? Perhaps if people realise hospices are solely funded by donations pressure can be brought on the government to protect them the way they are protecting jobs elsewhere. Not to mention pressure should be put on the government to fund hospices properly full stop. I hope you can hang on in there, take care. x

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    1. I think our need is just one of many xx

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  37. Unbelievable that Hospices may close, just when they are most needed! I think that you have a book in you John, you should write...

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  38. An ex-student of mine, now a hospital registrar, once emailed me with an update of her life and ended with: "You made me what I am today." I replied along the lines of "Oh thanks, that's nice of you.", but she emailed back with "You may have misinterpreted my comment as praise." I am still not sure if that was humour.

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    1. Yes....I like this as it feels more real lol

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  39. You don't always know how much you reach and affect a person because many people hold those feelings in and cover them with a bit of stubborness and anger. That is why I don't like to ever give up on people.

    I worked many years at the front desk of a medical office. One old man was quite short and hateful with everyone he came in contact with when he came in. I decided I was just as stubborn as he was and I was not going to give up on him. I always greeted him with a smile, no matter how bad his mood. I always reached out to help him even when everyone else turned away due to his sharp words. After a while he began to smile everytime he saw me and his words began to soften a bit. The first smile I saw on his face was one of the best smiles I've ever seen.

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  40. I never knew that Hospices were not part of the health
    care system, sadly I knew a few fellow patients who went into their care here in Canada will have to check what the situation is here, and protest loudly for change if needed. Take care John and followers of your blog let your members of parliament know, that the time for change is now.

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  41. I've wondered from time to time how you got the inspiration for your blog name. I concluded it must have been from a movie -- but that wasn't right either!

    Interesting that you don't recall any of those positive vibes from that patient; yet clearly she felt them (maybe only eventually) or she would not have written that inscription.

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