Guest Blog – Sharon-Ann North
Thank you very much to Sharon-Ann for contributing to our blog. It gives a great insight into how as a service provider there is sometimes the need to learn and improve.
Blog: “being mindful, respectful and compassionate in our daily lives”
The ICU was manic and noisy with an array of medical professionals attending to the motionless bodies on the beds connected to bleeping machines with tubes and wires.
As I walked almost in a dream-like state towards my body in bed three I could feel the sheer panic well up inside me. I felt nauseous and light headed and froze initially just short of the bed trying to gather my thoughts and compose my already frantic and distraught mind at the enormity of the events that had unfolded since I had received “ That “ phone call the day before, telling me Mum had suffered a very violent and life threatening heart attack.
My younger sister red eyed and swollen faced from crying who had been with mum sensed my apprehension and held my hand tight as we both approached the bed.
As I gazed upon mum’s motionless body my heart hurt deeply at the sight of my beautiful mum, eyes closed, and attached to so many tubes and wires.
I felt the warm tears cascade down my cheeks and land on her beautiful hand. I held that beautiful hand softly and stroked her forehead and kissed her now wet cheeks gently as I whispered:
“Mum it’s me, it’s Sharon. I am here with your boys Harry and George. I am so sorry it’s taken us so long but you always tell me to drive slowly and safely when I have your grandson’s in the car “.
I laughed quietly through the tears at the conversation we always had when I was visiting her in London from Leeds.
She was unresponsive as I looked hopefully at her soft lined face for any reaction to my presence, words or touch.
This was the beginning of the longest saddest day of mine and my family’s lives as we kept a dignified vigil throughout the day with a mixture of tears and laughter as we recounted in the family room many a funny story about this formidable strong lady in bed three.
During the afternoon I became acutely aware of mum’s lead nurse who was diligently carrying out mum’s observations and treatment, but what upset us was her apparent lack of compassion or empathy to my mum.
Initially, as most people in extreme grief, we did not want to cause a scene, but when she removed mum’s socks in a fashion I can only describe as rough my already frayed patience was pushed to the limits.
As she went to pull mum’s second sock off her already fragile legs I held her hand softly, and as politely and as respectfully as I could muster I asked her to stop and said:
“This is my mum, may I introduce you to the remarkable and very much loved mum and grandmother you have tended to with such clinical diligence during your shift.”
She smiled awkwardly and looked at me confused. I carried on.
“This is our Mum I re iterated ‘Annie Hannon MckNIGHT’ She loves to be called Annie and she loves to be treated with respect , dignity and manners.”
“She has been on this earth for the last 67 years and amongst her many talents she likes baking cakes.”
I felt the hot tears on my cheeks again as I rubbed her exposed leg gently.
“She is a formidable and loved lady who drinks tea by the gallon
When you change her dressings on her already battered and bruised frail body I am asking you to do so with compassion and kindness.
“Talk to her and tell her what you are doing and then she will feel at ease in the sedated world she now inhabits. She is still with us, albeit asleep, and she is loved and cared for more than you can ever imagine.”
The next few hours were tense and traumatic for my grieving and heartbroken family and as mum passed peacefully in her sedated state never regaining consciousness, surrounded by all who loved her dearly, I again washed those beautiful cheeks with hot tears and held her close as she had done so many times, comforting me in life’s sorrow and pain as only a mother can comfort her child.
She will live on in our hearts and minds forever.
So what am I conveying to you in sharing?
Is this about the journey of life and death or a child’s love and connection with a parent / carer or guardian at the end of their lives?
It is about being mindful, respectful and compassionate in our daily lives and having an awareness of not only our perceived attitudes and behaviours but maybe actually how we present outwardly.
In sharing my sad life event with you today I truly hope it makes you stop and think if only to read my story.
We all start our life journey in the same way, a clean slate, an unwritten novel. We all develop differently in our respective families, cultures and peer groups and we must always be grateful for these wonderful differences that is what makes us human beings.
We all have a responsibility to embrace others with respect, empathy and compassion in an ever evolving, complex and hard world we all share.
I believe, and at every opportunity demonstrate, the concept of “The Ripple Effect“ (your behaviour breeds behaviour in others and so on the waves of the ripple are felt far and wide).
So yes, I am supporting the NHS Values in great company with inspirational people such as Mr John Walsh, Dr Amir Hannan , Dr Umesh Prabhu and of course Mr Gareth Presch, the inspiration and driving force for The Health Innovation Summit in 2016.
Quote “Too Often we underestimate the power of a touch , a smile, a kind word , a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
*The opinions expressed are the guests own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.