I confess to being one of those who, whenever I heard a mention of palliative care, I also thought of Massey’s and Mount Jerome.
Thank God, I was wrong.
Palliative care, I now know, is designed to improve the quality of life of people with life-limiting or chronic illness which treatment cannot cure.
And that’s a category which defines my health right now.
There are some who think that palliative care is only offered when no other treatment is possible. But that is not the case. It is offered alongside other treatments.
And one of its aims is to help better manage symptoms and complications so that a patient, and indeed those around them, are more comfortable.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because I have begun receiving palliative care or, more specifically I am now receiving what is called “palliative care in the community”. That means I’m still at home, I still live life as normally as it is possible to live it with my condition – and with a pandemic still active around me.
It is at the suggestion of my GP who probably knows me better than anyone else. He certainly knows more about my condition and my medical history than anyone else, probably including me.
He reminded me what palliative care is and how important it is especially as we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
In the coming months and, with a bit of luck, years I will receive regular contact or visits from experts in diet, breathing, exercise, medication and even the environment in which I live.
That is to say someone will tell me what to eat, teach me breathing and other exercises and constantly watch what medication I am on.
But it will all be done without the need for me to go into hospital as an inpatient - for as long as possible.
So, for the moment, someone will come to have a look at the house to see if it needs a handrail here or there to help me get about. That’s not something I need at the moment.
Climbing Croagh Patrick
I still walk around unaided even if a small walk leaves me breathless.
I found it hard to believe that, a few weeks ago, it was the 20th anniversary of my climbing Croagh Patrick with a couple of friends, all of us, at the time, suffering hangovers from the previous night’s exertions in Louisburgh.
But we did it.
The stairs to the bedroom is my Croagh Patrick these days.
Palliative care is a new journey for me though there are thousands of people out there who have been receiving palliative care in the community for some time.
Covid has made it more difficult and in many ways, more necessary.
The doctor visiting me recently arrived in full PPE. I have no doubt that neighbours were wondering what was going on.
But whereas he might have come in civilian clothes a couple of years ago, full costume is required now.
It’s just another way life has changed since early 2020 when we were first told of a virus in a Chinese city most of us had never heard of.
We are told that, little by little, we’re returning to normal though few have any idea what that normal is.
And we seem to forget that for thousands of families in Ireland, bereaved by the death of a family member from Covid, life will never be the same again.
There is no return to normal because things have changed.
And I have little doubt, that even more changes await us in the months ahead.