Jeanne Ellin: dying in hospital

Hospital corridor

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Dying in hospital: a common fear

Hospital corridorDeath does not scare me or my friends, but the prospect of dying in hospital does.

At sixty-seven I have made peace with the reality of death, though I enjoy life and hope to have more of it. Death is either a long dreamless sleep without pain of heart, mind or body or the beginning of an adventure. I’m ok with either option, though have a strong preference for the adventure.

I have been a nurse for decades and latterly worked in a hospice where I learnt more about the daily joy of life and the need to savour it.

So dying with the quality of care hospices offer – tender, skilled and humane – would not frighten me. Dying alone in my small flat does not frighten me either.

The fear of being helpless, thirsty, suffering with bedsores, lying in my own waste, feeling my mouth sour from lack of cleansing, now that does frighten me. Friends have had recent experience of hospital stays. They too had loving friends and family, but there were long hours alone, being cared for without compassion, with bullying and emotional unkindness. And that frightens me.

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About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.