The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2016 Semester 2
Going into the visit, I had expected the conversation to be very philosophical and deep, with lots of talk about life satisfaction, with maybe a nugget of life advice. I also thought that I would probably go away and paint a picture of a sunset to represent end of life for my assignment. However, I was surprised to find that the person I was visiting was most interested in talking about the things that made him happy, and therefore made his time in hospital more comfortable. Quite early in the conversation, he told us how he had been dreaming of San Pellegrino Sparkling Water all night, and that it was all he wanted. He said that he had all the nurses and all the doctors searching for it. His cousin arrived not long after us, and she had managed to find some at the supermarket. He was so pleased. She poured him a glass and he shakenly lifted it to his lips, then took a large sip and said with closed eyes “ahh… heaven”.
Although it didn’t seem very significant at the time, upon reflection this moment was a nice illustration of how priorities change, and what becomes more important at the end of life when something as simple as a favourite drink can become the most important thing on a person’s mind, hence the influence for my painting. My creative piece reflects this because I felt as though it represents how something simple and unassuming could be something important, by turning an everyday product from the supermarket, into a canvas painting that could be hung on a wall and deemed “art” (a rather demanding task for someone such as myself, with scarce artistic experience or skill).
The experience I had from my palliative patient visit has challenged my previous experiences with palliative patients, and has changed the way I think about palliative care. Initially, I thought that palliative care would be based mostly on managing disease or pain using medicines, but I now think that this is a relatively minor part of palliative care in regards to what is important to the patient, whose main focus is being comfortable and happy in terms of the day-to-day things.