Tuesday Evening House Call

Jeremy Doyle’s house is perched high on a knoll with peaceful meadows and a distant ocean view. I had been there a few times before, a dozen years ago, when our teenage daughters were friends. Tuesday evening I went there for my first house call.

Jeremy is a couple of years younger than I am and slowly dying from two forms of cancer. He has his family curse; I also tended to his brother, who died less than a year ago. Jeremy’s Hospice nurse had called earlier in the day and suggested it was time I went there.

The change in Jeremy since I saw him last was profound. He had been under the care of several specialists, so I hadn’t seen him for a few months. Now, with no further treatment options, Hospice nurses are going in several times a week. He is on a morphine drip for his pain, breathes through a tracheostomy and gets his nourishment through a feeding tube.

The last time I was there, we were on opposite sides of 40, he just under and I just over. Yesterday I was there to see for myself how we might change his medications to ease his final journey. Both Jeremy and his wife, Samantha, are rock solid. They have been through enough ups and downs in his cancer battle that they have learned to endure more than most people could imagine, and they have tackled each new obstacle slowly and methodically. Samantha has learned to do absolutely everything the Hospice nurses do.

Sitting in their kitchen in the bright early evening light with friends stopping in for a brief visit and a young dog at their feet, I clearly had the sense that Jeremy and Samantha were in the moment, accepting and appreciating each hour of life and relative comfort. The scene was peaceful, and somehow more significant as a sign of life than one of impending death. We went through his medications, checked on all the issues raised by the Hospice nurse, and I took care of his new medication orders.

As I patted Jeremy’s elbow when I left, I said “I’ll see you soon”. Both of us knew that “soon” might never happen.

1 Response to “Tuesday Evening House Call”

  1. 1 Steph August 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    How sad!

    Having watched my own brother deteriorate and die (aged 48) following a long battle with cancer of the oesophagus, I know only too well the scene you describe. Thank goodness for hospice care and hospice nurses in the home.

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