She passed away in 36 hours, quietly and peacefully at home. The atmosphere in the home was also quiet and peaceful. No panic, no rush, .. just doing what is required. In fact, there was a sense of relief that this happened now, and not during the Chinese New Year season.
The day before, I was called in to see her as she had deteriorated – she had stopped eating and her breathing pattern had changed. She was still alert, opening her eyes and even moving her limbs a little; she reacted when she could hear her husband in the hall.
Her family already knew that her death was impending but needed a professional opinion to confirm this to be the case. Once this was provided, the necessary care and arrangements could follow. There was not much in the way of medical care, as there were no distressing symptoms. It was more a question of knowing and preparing.
Supporting the patient and family in this way is an important role for healthcare professionals. As professionals we often feel the need to do something – prescribe medication, intervene, etc. That is still necessary in many cases, but for this patient (and the family) having the prognosis confirmed was what really mattered.