Chenjerai Bhodheni Marondera Branch Coordinator & Palliative Care Nurse
When I saw Joseph for the first time he was crying. Joseph is 34 years old, lives in Marondera and has Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Joseph is also living with a cancer called Kaposi Sarcoma (KS).
When I examined Joseph he told me with tears in his eyes that he was unable to raise funds to buy his chemotherapy medication.
Joseph’s mother, his primary carer,explained that the family were facing insurmountable financial challenges such that they were unable to buy paracetamol. He told me that he felt great pain.
Joseph held up his five fingers rating his pain as 5 out of 5 – the most severe.
We managed Joseph’s physical pain immediately by giving him morphine.
Palliative care is about managing all pain and symptoms associated with a life-threatening illness be it physical pain, emotional pain, or spiritual pain. In palliative care we work as a team and on that day, I was visiting my patients including Joseph with a social worker. She spoke with Joseph and it soon became clear he also had emotional pain.
Joseph lives with his mother, is not able to work and his wife and children have left him. He spoke of his many losses. The loss of his job, his role as a breadwinner, his wife and his children.
When asked how it was for him living with his condition he broke down. He then said: “We’ll discuss when you come on your next visit.” Joseph had family with him in the room and as we see patients often we understood that perhaps Joseph wished to talk to us in confidence.
Over the course of the next visits Joseph confidentially opened up to us about emotional issues which were resulting from social neglect from his carers who feared his diagnosis. This was discussed in depth with Joseph and, with his consent, the family were counselled.
Following several sessions with his family it was agreed that Joseph’s uncle take over his care.
Joseph was happy about this development and his mother reported that she was happy her son’s needs were being met and she was able to function and care for the rest of her family. She said the care she was providing had drained her as she had been the main person to assist Joseph.
The subsequent visits and discussions proved that Joseph’s quality of life had improved.
He did not have emotional or physical pain. He was coming to terms with his diagnosis and how it had changed his life.
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day falls on 13 October 2018 under the theme,‘Because I Matter’.
As a team we managed Joseph’s pain holistically and supported his family and in so doing addressed his physical and emotional pain. I continue to see Joseph regularly and support him and his family because he matters.
◆ Island Hospice & Healthcare was established in 1979 as the first palliative care institution in Africa. Island has branches in Bulawayo, Harare, Marondera and Mutare. For more information about the services on offer or to contact a branch near you please visit www.islandhospice.care.
◆ This story has been brought to you by Zimpapers as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives.