A story from palliative care: Madam Marie

Knowing the last wishes of our clients and trying to fulfill them. That is also one of the pieces of Sue Ryder’s mosaic of dignified care, and the reason why we took Madam Marie to the Říp mountain on March 5th, 2020.

It was Wednesday, a strong wind was blowing, and it was so chilly that one would rather curl up under a blanket and sip a hot cup of tea. Regardless, a special expedition departed from Sue Ryder. We were accompanying Madam Marie who had wished to see Říp and Roudnice and Labem for the last time, the place where she was born in 1926. This trip would have been more suited for spring colors, but we were scared to delay it. In this case, another day could also mean never more.

Madam Marie has been losing strength for several months now and has gradually become a client in palliative care. She, as well as many other clients, suffers from a terminal illness in an advanced stage. That is why we apply aspects of the so-called palliative care, which focuses on the managing of pain, shortness of breath, and other physical and mental anguishes. The alpha and omega here are maintaining of the quality of life to the very end. As the colleagues from the organization Cesta domů, with whom we closely cooperate, say: “Palliative care supports life but looks at dying as a natural process, it does not aim to speed up or delay death.” It stems from the individual wishes and needs of our clients. And sometimes an urgent wish can be to visit a person or a place.

“We were a bit scared of the trip. A big worry was whether Madam Marie can sit for that long, as she spends most of her time on the hospital bed. Thanks to a special car however she did not need to be moved from her wheelchair and managed the trip comfortably, even sleeping on the way back. We were also worried about the cold that day. That is why we prepared well – a warm covering for the wheelchair against the wind, many warm blankets, scarves, and, of course, a snack. What we were the most afraid of was whether Madam Marie would recognize the familiar places. Whether the wish would actually be fulfilled and would be worth the physical discomfort she would have had to endure. But not only did she recognize the places. She completely woke up and her memories started to come alive. Polabská nížina lay at her feet, she watched it from the foot of the mountain because we could not go any higher. She saw the house where she lived and she nearly conquered Říp – a marzipan cake at the confectioner’s on the town square,” says Kateřina Holmanová, the therapist coordinator and the assistant Ondra, who accompanied Madam Marie. Browse through the photo gallery for this trip.

You are probably asking how things are today. Nearly 4 months have passed since our trip. Madam Marie is still living in the Sue Ryder retirement home, with a picture of mountain Říp above her bed and she has another final wish. She wants to see Paris!

We can only write such stories thanks to our donors and supporters. Thanks to you, the life of Sue Ryder clients is not restricted to a hospital bed and the 4 walls of their room. There is room for final wishes, which you help fulfill together with us. Thank you!