As business woman and journalist Ita Buttrose stepped down from her position as Australian of the year 2013, she urged people and business to support older Australians in the fight against age discrimination.
There are few jobs that land you smack bang right in the heart of a family quite like nursing.
And so on Saturday night I again found myself in this most intimate of circumstances; this time in eighty-year old Ron’s bedroom.
Ron has terminal cancer and is now very weak and consequently has been taking many falls on his way to the bathroom. So the plan was to install a urinary catheter and therefore save him the trouble of getting out of bed as often. The strategy was good but as so often happens there are complications and in Ron’s case the catheter was blocked by a blood clot and the little urine he managed to pass was bright red.
So I was called in to take out the catheter and the poor man continued to pass fresh blood into the toilet.
Over a couple of hours his sons and I helped the old man to the toilet, dutifully inspecting the passage of blood trickling into the toilet bowl and together we placed Ron’s body in thick pads while we waited the arrival of the ambulance. A dying man is low priority on a Saturday night in Melbourne.
During this time the communication was easy; jokes were made and laughter was enjoyed. I had met and spoken with Ron on a couple of occasions but his sons Paul and Graham I had not met at all and yet the ease that this caring relationship is undertaken amazed me and always has during my long years of nursing. In fact I think that it is the best thing about the job; the patients and their family are so grateful.
The next day Graham rang to thank me for my caring and for keeping his dad’s spirits up during the long saturday night. Ron is still in hospital; he has received a blood transfusion along with a working catheter and should be home very soon.
Yes, it’s the simple things in life that are the most rewarding!