In an emotive and powerful article featured on the US news website, The Atlantic, a success story in palliative care is told. Despite not being able to find Mrs Lewis a cure, the healthcare team had not forgotten “their mission to care.”
Mrs Lewis was unable to leave her hospital bed so instead, her carers came up with an innovative idea:
“The team rolled in an ultrasound machine and her pregnant daughter lay down in the bed beside her. Then, as grandmother and mother held hands, a physician patiently introduced “Aiden” to them both. No formal request for an examination was submitted, no bill produced, and no interpretation rendered.
“But for more than an hour, Lewis’s eyes were glued to the screen. She witnessed her unborn grandson’s heart beating, marveled at his exquisite fingers and toes, and delighted in his beautifully healthy body. She gazed transfixed on his face. Seeing Aiden not only made her day. It gave her the peace she desperately longed for.”
Authored by Richard Gunderman, The Atlantic health correspondent and Peg Nelson, the director of palliative and pain services at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, the feature discusses good palliative care, saying: “The goal is not just to die well but to live well.”
The article continues: “Palliative care enhances understanding, reduces suffering, and helps patients, families, and the healthcare team clarify goals. Because the focus is not on making the disease go away, it is possible to focus attention on living with it as well as possible.”
The authors consider the importance of a good death. Not only for the patient but for the family who will remember the experience forever: “A good death can be an enduring source of comfort, bonding, and deep insight.”