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Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Palliative Care Nurse

Some time ago I had a very good friend "D" who worked for Macmillan - I liked and respected him and we got along really well. We first met when we were both volunteering for a Gay Switchboard and we became firm friends. He was a guest at Gavin and I's Civil Partnership. After my diagnosis of cancer “D” was wonderful and explained all sorts of things to me. A good friend and one I respected a lot.

Then one day I rang "D" and only got an answer-phone message - I didn't really think anything about it - he was probably out shopping or some such - but it kept happening and on "D"'s mobile and home phone all I got was voice mail - when I knocked on his door there was no reply - ever. I kept trying to contact him for some six months culminating in leaving what I now realise was a very sad and rather pathetic phone message. Still no contact.

This was all going on whilst I was undergoing chemotherapy and then in May 2009 chemotherapy finished and I was passed back to my GP for best possible palliative care. My GP put me in contact with one of the two local Macmillan palliative care nurses – of course one of these two is “D” but he did not arrive and we saw the second nurse – “G”. Gavin and I had the usual extensive chat with her. During the course of this conversation I did ask about “D” but she was very dismissive and just said that “D” felt he couldn’t see me because of our friendship – I said to “G” that I didn’t think “D” and I had a friendship as I hadn’t seen or spoken to him for some 18 months or so. Anyway shortly after this conversation “G” dropped me from her list – probably quite fairly as at that stage in May 2009 I didn’t really need Macmillan’s help.

My GP retired and another GP took over and in November 2009 – I was starting to cough a lot – the new GP thought it would be a good idea to have me in contact with the Macmillan Palliative team again. He spent a lot of time telling me about “D” not knowing that I knew him and not knowing that “D” wouldn’t speak to me and hadn’t done so for nearly two years. When I pointed this out he said words to the effect of “Nonsense I’ll speak to him” but then and later the GP told me that “D” had said to him “Richard has been told at length that I cannot deal with him as I consider him a friend”

Of course that had never ever been said to me, although I would in fact have been very understanding if this had been the case – I feel that we could have remained friends and put boundaries in place so that we never talked about cancer. But I never had the chance to say that to “D” and I feel very bitter – conversely I have also been left with only one of the Macmillan Palliative care team – what happens when she is away on holiday?

7 comments:

Carolina said...

Very strange story. Some 'friend'! Your Fisherman's Friends are clearly more caring.

Obviously you will have to join your Macmillan Palliative care person on HER holiday of YOUR choice ;-)

I'm sorry that there isn't more help available for you. No other organisations that provide the same care?

Louise said...

Sad story. Sad that "D" should choose to express his "friendship" for you as a refusal to help care for you. It would be nice, I imagine, for you to get to the bottom of this strange behaviour...

Lovely's Blot said...

Some professionals believe that being professional means that you have to remain detached and objective. Personally I think that's rubbish and impossible to do anyway. We should just accept that we are human first and professional second and try to deal with complicated work relationships in the same way as we deal with all our relationships, in an adult way. Mind you, therein lies the problem as not all professionals are good adults1

Chairman Bill said...

Hayley thinks this very strange and not at all professional. She'll probably comment herself.

Hayley said...

Hi Richard

This made me very sad to read...

I'm very surprised at the behaviour of the MacMillan 'professional'. They are frequently put in positions such as these are are trained to deal with them with sensitivity and consideration. It seems odd that your 'friend' ignored all forms of communication and relied on other healthcare staff to pass on his alleged reasons for not having contact with you. I'd want to write to him explaining the confusuion and upset he has caused and ask what happened. I do feel for you...

Take care

Hayley xxxx

Poppy said...

Hmmmmmmm I know you are nicer than me but I still think he should receive some kind of professional sanction for how he is behaving - if there is only funding for 2 posts, and he cannot do his job then someone else should have the opportunity to do it (and its pretty inevitable this situation will arise esp in in-bred Norwich!)

Kerrie said...

It's clear to me that D is neither a friend nor a very good MacMillan and should have the decency to explain himself to you personally full stop. Let's hope G only goes to Skeggie for a day trip.

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