About: Rotherham: Every interaction counts

(as other),

This is the transcript of one of the monologues used in the Every Interaction Counts day run by Patient Opinion and Rotherham NHS FT in October 08. All events in this monologue are fictional. Ray sits at a table and starts to type on his computer. To… [types and then speak as he types] Subject: My Mother’s last days. [He types a little more and then reads the screen] I am not the type of person to complain. I am much like my Mother in that I don’t like conflict. [He types a full stop and then looks up at the audience and continues the posting as a monologue] And so I know that she would have wanted to have passed away with no fuss… or any atmosphere hanging in the air. And yet there has been an atmosphere that has remained with me: a sense that my Mother deserved better. There are also moments that circulate in my head and so now that she is not around to worry about what I might say, I feel like the only way to put things in order is to put them down on a page. My mother was admitted to Hawthorn ward having had a stroke. She was already frail and I knew she was coming near to the end of her life. All I could do was sit by her bed and wait for the inevitable. Medically she was treated as well as I could expect, but there was something broken about the care. I find it hard to put my finger on it precisely. No one was nasty – in fact I’d say everyone was kind. But kindness is not the same thing. I sat by my mother’s bed and watched as the nurses went about their business. I saw them stand at the nursing station in the middle of the ward. I saw more than they. They were too engrossed to see anything. I would walk past on my way to see my Mother and they would be talking about holidays or boyfriends. Sometimes I would pass them as if I were a ghost. They wouldn’t acknowledge me, they certainly wouldn’t welcome me. I felt like an outsider in their space… like I shouldn’t be there As I realised how little they were aware of my mother, I felt the need to approach them and ask for things; to ensure that they were at least reminded of her. They would at best tell me that they had just come on shift and at worst just ignore me… hoping that if they did, I might just go away. I would wonder if the tedium of sitting there meant that I was imagining things… after all she wasn’t the only patient and I knew that they had to share their time. I tried to fill my time with other thoughts or activities. But then other things would happen. Sloppy, careless things. Is there any excuse for leaving a cup of tea at the end of the bed of a paralysed woman? Or for letting her drip run out? Or… leaving a soiled night gown under her bed? I approached them and asked them about this. At that point I was beginning to think that I should fight my Mother’s corner a bit more. I wondered why the gown left there? And why no one had noticed it and picked it up? A mere glance in her direction should have been enough. But, they couldn’t say, no one seemed to know, no one seemed to care. It was clearly not important The time came quite quickly for my Mother to die. I’m grateful for that at least. Screens were put around her bed and prayers spoken. I wondered what the other patients in the neighbouring beds were thinking, or their relatives, sitting there listening. I started to leave the ward and on my way out a nurse stopped me. At last I had been noticed. She said “You might want this” and handed me a leaflet about bereavement counselling. Just like everything else it was done carelessly. It was something to be ticked off, a job completed, a task recorded and filed. I thanked the nurse and asked her to thank all the other staff, just as my mother would have wished and then I slipped away from the ward, like my mother did from life: quietly and without fuss. And stepped out into the cold air, where I could breathe again He goes back to his computer. Speaking as he types. Ray Wilkinson. [Pause] Send. [He presses a button as if sending an email] Click here to see other monologues from the day.
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