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The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2017 Semester 2

The poem above tries to capture the patients threading idea throughout the whole time we talked. The patient felt like he couldn’t give us much insight into what palliative care, the hospice or death was. What he kept going back to was this idea of “Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground”. It could be assumed that this would normally have a positive connotation, however, it seemed to me the patient was using this to hide their real feeling about their situation. I chose to write the poem like this to show how we would talk about topics very shallowly, before the patient would go back to mentioning the idea that ‘everything’s fine though cause I’m alive.

Perhaps because we only had a short time to talk with the patient, they didn’t feel like talking to people about this stuff who they didn’t even know. However, I got the feeling that the patient was trying to stay positive within himself by constantly reminding themselves that everything was fine because they were alive. This is what I have hoped to reflect above, that despite being having death looming nearby, if you were alive you were fine.

What I learned from this patient, was that being ‘palliative’ doesn’t have to be a huge matter. For this patient, although at the End of Life, they seemed to have this recognition that dying is inevitable, and the time to die comes for everyone at different stages of their life.

PDF version of "Life’s Better"

I don’t know what help I am, all I know is:
Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

I can keep on doing what I want up here
My wife is here with me
That annoying dog, I can keep telling him off
The phone rings and I can hear my kids
Grandson down the back can still ignore me.

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

But life’s not better
The cancer is getting to me
My back always hurts
This cough never goes away
I’ve lived past the due date and yet,

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

Chemo is depressing
You sit in room full of dying people
Radiation is just scary
Trapped inside the doctors’ cage
And none of it has worked and still,

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

I’ve had to cancel my overseas trip
I can’t walk down to the shops without stopping
I go to the cinema only to find I fall asleep
Some days all I do is stay in bed
And wonder when my time will come

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

My daughter, she had it bad
Breast cancer got her
Lived her last days in the hospice
The staff were perfect and looked after her well

I couldn’t do anything about that

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

I wanna die at home
Everything is here that I need
A funeral and then cremation
To be scattered with my parents
That’s what I want but

Life’s better when you’re walking above the ground

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