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The Morphine Party

We went to see him.

He is dying.

He was disagreeable and crotchetty when we got there, fogged up with morphine and very unhappy; my heart bled when he said something nasty and swore at me, utterly uncharacteristic for him, - but I just laughed and told him not to be so bleedin' rude. And he laughed too, and poked my mate with his walking stick.

We soldiered on and it took valour at first; he could not talk. At least he wasn't throwing up as much, though he was retching quite a bit. He said he felt bad, that he kept feeling these fears. Once he cried out, 'I must stand up!' And we helped him to his feet. He stood there, such a very little man, making strange sounds. He said he felt strange and dizzy. We waited and sat him down when he was ready again.

I asked him if he had ever liked music, and he said not really, but he would like some now and he enjoyed Mozart. So we got some up on Youtube. Then the One Who Loves Him turned up with a bright smile and flowers and wine...and then two other friends turned just after. So we sat there, 6 of us in this tiny flat, and though he couldn't drink the wine, he was at the heart of our little party. We all talked nonsense, and more often than before, he faded out and away, but when he came back, I saw him smile at us all; the music and the company and the vibe pleased him.

When the district nurse turned up, I collared him quietly and we spoke about the dosage of morphine. He explained that in hospital, Mark's dosage had needed to be upped to control the pain, and the nurses would be very loath to lower it. It was pointed out that he had suffered morphine nightmares in hospital, and was going through what seemed like similar distress, though not shaped, not seen in his mind's eye, just fear.

The DN looked very kindly at me. 'I have seen this before,' he said. 'Many people feel this sense of dread in the end stages. It might not be the morphine. It might just be fear.'
But he agreed to make a note of it to the team, and to suggest adding a certain drug to the syringe feed, mem-something, that might assist in controlling Mark's agitation.

Meanwhile, back at the party, someone rang to talk to Mark about going into a hospice today. He resists because there's no privacy; two people to a room and the TV always on. He has never had a TV, not really into it. But if he can have privacy, he feels ready to go.

The One Who Loves Him is suggesting that it's good if he isn't left alone overnight, and I'm not surprised. The other carer who appeared during the party told me that he leaves his door on the latch; anyone could come in. On the other hand, this is sheltered housing, full of the old and infirm and poor - they're hardly going to have much someone would want to nick. Still. So I am trying to work out which night. Friday is a difficult day for me as I have folk here the next day and I need to be awake for them, Thursday night I am in town and could go straight from there to where he lives. Someone is intending to be there tomorrow night I think. So thursday probably, unless they move him into the hospice today, in which case it is all moot.

I am glad we had the party.



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