Lifelong Learning Programme

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Training > Experiences

Personal Experience

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The last gift

Language: English
Country: Italy
Typology: patients and relatives
The road to get to San Maurizio Canavese was in the middle of the countryside, with airplanes taking off and landing. You were always there, in the Department for Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, every day worse than the previous one. I used to try to read your thoughts through your eyes, perhaps you felt lost in that unknown place. What a terrible sense of guilt for taking you to that place, but we could not do anything else, we and our children; since mom died four months before, your real being had gone away with her but we did not want to give in, "Maybe they manage to help him, to find the right care and then he will come back home…", we told each other. We could not imagine that you would not leave that place alive. When I arrived, I often found you asleep in a wheelchair in the lounge, I woke you up and sometimes you did recognize me. You could not speak, you just slurred syllables that were incomprehensible to me, but I pretended to understand you. Then I took you to your room and shaved you; you really cared about your appearance, I do not remember having seen you with a long beard, in seventy-five years. It was really awful when, arriving in the morning, I found the restraint straps on your bed. I imagined you wiggling during the night with the band on your belly and the straps on your wrists: it was necessary to prevent you from falling out of bed, the doctor had already told me, but how much pain did I feel! Around us, a flock of people lost in their world, wandering or shouting in the department. And so many relatives like me, children, husbands, wives who looked at each other, and there was no need to speak, because everyone knew how the others felt. In those moments, I, being a daughter as well as a nurse, would have liked to do something, but I felt helpless in front of a situation that was greater than I was. I could do nothing more than standing by you and staying with you during your last journey. That Saturday the program was to come and see you in the afternoon, but during the night I could not sleep, I felt that you were about to die… So, in the morning I ran to the hospital… and I arrived just in time. After half an hour, you passed away, in my arms. This was your last gift: waiting for me!

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