Adonis Diaries

“As we befriend death” by Sylvie Pierre Garoche. Part 2

Posted on: March 24, 2010

Part Two: “When we befriend death”; (Mar. 23, 2010)

In part one, Sylvie, the wife of Pierre Garoche, learned that her husband has an incurable bone cancer.

A treatment was supposed to remiss his disease from developing for an average of two years, but Pierre discovered that his case extended his normal life for only three months.

Within these 3 months, Pierre managed to quit work as physicist researcher and arranged to be free from all social responsibilities in order to tackle his new life conditions.

Pierre had a year to experience the denuding process from all attachments: material, mental, and emotional. He also had to witness during the short periods of relative painless physical well-being the kinds of close friendship with his friends and members of his family, total openness, joy, and laughter.

A few friends had to face death in Pierre and they initially felt relieved that death is not so scary after all.

The example of Pierre’s family cool approach to death was a catalyst for visitors to talk freely and discuss openly on topics they cared about.

The number of cancer markers doubled every 15 days and eventually, the doses of pain-killer had to be changed in quality and in quantity.

Sudden pains, in various parts of Pierre’s body were like knives inserted in these locations. Pierre began to sleep more frequently and for longer duration.  Natural bodily functions degraded.

Soon, morphine was king. When well controlled, morphine does not provoke hallucinations or addiction until it saturates the blood after prolonged constant usage.

As long as he was in his mental capacity, Pierre followed the medical procedures methodically and in details:  he kept statistics and tried to forecast the next phase in his sickness. He wanted to figure out from data the exact date of his death. They redecorated the rooms: “I want to die in a pretty room” said Pierre.

Soon, Pierre needed a specialized hospital bed installed in his room at home. When asked “Why are you in such a hurry to pass away?” Pierre would reply: “Yes, I am in a hurry. It is becoming too difficult to resume living.”

His wife Sylvie once said: “at least you experienced how it is to live in old age, one step of the staircase at a time

There were periods when Pierre could no longer eat or drink.  Pierre wanted to die at home; his wife at first refused to play the nurse because she was untrained for that job.  Then they discovered mobile group care facilities that were associated with a palliative hospital (specialized in focusing on pain and suffering of terminally ill patients).

This 24 by 24 seven days on the job call mobile facility made Sylvie task easier to handle.  Sylvie learned to administer the medicines on time as Pierre gradually relinquished his control and management over details.  Pierre had stopped counting and anticipating.

Once, as Pierre could no longer suffer being among the living, the entire family prayed in the presence of Pierre: “Lord, we ask you to come and fetch Pierre in June, if it is possible…” This prayer reassured Pierre that his family had given him authorization to passing away.

By the by, Pierre reached a phase where dreaming and reality were confounded.  Higher doses of morphine increased secondary deleterious effects.  The palliative hospital was the proper place for a few days to changing his blood and recalibrating the variety of pain killers. Pierre would return home in better state mentally and physically for shorter and shorter durations.  Nurses were hired for the morning washing.

Note 1: You may read part one:

Note 2: I described in two previous articles the denuding process of a terminally ill and how palliative hospital functions as a haven of dignity for these patients.

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March 2010

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