Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

Author:Bronnie Ware
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Hay House
Published: 2019-05-27T16:00:00+00:00

Gifts in disguise

A few temporary shifts in nursing homes had seen me working with clients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Nanci was my first private home, palliative client with this disease.

She had been a gentle woman, the mother of three children and ten grandchildren. Her husband was still about, but rarely came into her room. It was easy to forget he actually lived in the house at all. Nanci’s three sisters and two brothers would visit on alternate days, as would a few of her friends, though these visits slowed down over time.

Looking after Nanci was hard, exhausting work. She was restless and very hard to monitor, never wanting to stay in one place for more than one minute, and very distressed much of the time. Moments of peace were few and far between for her and as a result, for me too.

Eventually her anguish became so concerning to everyone, especially her family, that the dosage of her medications was increased. Nanci then slept some of the day. When she was alert, her words and sentences made no sense at all, as is typical of those with Alzheimer’s. Parts of one word were mingled with parts of others. You could recognise it as an English dialect at times, but nothing structured, formal or coherent. Still, I treated Nanci as I did all of my clients, with love and gentleness, chatting to her as I did my job. Sometimes she acknowledged I was in the room, sometimes she was miles away and I could have had ten heads without her noticing.

Occasionally I would shower her when I arrived at eight in the morning, but this was usually the night carer’s role. Washing her fell to me if it had been a particularly troublesome night and Nanci was still sleeping when I arrived, which was fine. More often than not though, the showering would be happening when I arrived around eight. Nanci would sometimes smile at me as she sat on the shower chair, while the night carer washed her. However, one particular carer had significantly different methods of care than the rest of us, and insisted that was the way things were done where she came from.

The first incident happened one very cold winter morning. Arriving in Nanci’s room, I found her lying naked on her bed, shivering with cold and fully exposed. She had just been showered. During the process, her bowels had opened, leaving a huge pile of faeces under the shower chair. That was nothing new. Clients often experienced this when their backsides were hanging through the opening of the chair, as their bowels recognised it as a toilet seat. These chairs were also used to sit over a toilet, if clients needed an elevated seat.

Nanci was a modest woman from a modest family. Lying there naked without any covering would have been traumatic enough for her, but she was also shivering from cold, looking like a fragile little child. The minute I walked in and saw her like that, I finished drying her off and covered her with a warm blanket as soon as possible.


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