The nurse came and just clicked with our mum ...

Daugh­ter Fiona says ‘Marie Curie brought com­fort, ex­pe­ri­ence and laugh­ter to our home’

The Oban Times - - News -

AN AR­GYLL woman has told her heart­break­ing story of the loss of her mum and the care she re­ceived, so that peo­ple in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion will know there is al­ways some­one to turn to.

Mum- of-two Fiona Ben­nett and her fam­ily strug­gled to cope with her mum’s con­di­tion when she be­came ter­mi­nally ill, re­quir­ing 24-hour care.

Marie Curie Cancer Care be­came in­volved and, as Fiona ex­plains, her mum Cather­ine Ma­cleod’s pass­ing was peace­ful thanks to the nurses. Fiona, HR man­ager at The

Oban Times, ex­plained: ‘At Christ­mas 2015, mum had a sore back which es­ca­lated to a huge pain.

‘She had an X-ray and the doc­tors found a very large tu­mour block­ing the en­trance to one of her lungs. It was in­op­er­a­ble. They dis­cussed chemo but weighed up the qual­ity of life against what might not be a long time.

‘Mum went into the Beat­son be­ing mo­bile but in pain. But when she came out she had lost the use of both her legs and was in a wheel­chair. She wanted to get home but needed full phys­i­cal care.

‘We cared for mum at her home – my­self, my sis­ter and my Aun­tie Norma. It was 24hour care. In May 2016, Aun­tie Norma said she thought Marie Curie could help us. At that time we were do­ing the night­shifts our­selves ... sy­ringe, catheter ... we were ex­hausted.

‘Norma lives in Glas­gow, my sis­ter is in Ed­in­burgh and I’m in Oban so we were all trav­el­ling to get to mum in He­lens­burgh.

‘When Norma got in touch, Marie Curie said they could cover two to three nights a week. We thought that was great. That in­creased to four nights a week. One of us was al­ways there but it meant we could still sleep. We had a cou­ple of nurses who were bril­liant.

‘One evening Mar­garet-Ann came for the first time and she just clicked with mum. She very quickly fit­ted in and they formed a close, pro­fes­sional bond. She wasn’t a stranger in the house.

‘When mum was in the Beat­son, she’d said it was a dream of hers to get to my house and spend time in the gar­den.

‘Mum came up to Oban and we were as­tounded Marie Curie could cover as much as they did.

‘Mar­garet-Ann wanted to come up to con­tinue the care which meant mum didn’t have to go back to the be­gin­ning, build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with an­other nurse. She was part of the fam­ily. She would come in and have a cup of tea, bis­cuits and we would chat. We felt safe in the knowl­edge she was here.

‘Mum spoke to her about things she wouldn’t speak to us about – things emo­tion­ally that it was too dif­fi­cult for her to speak to us about. Mar­garet-Ann would lis­ten to us too and guide us. She would guide mum on how to com­mu­ni­cate with us.

‘The en­vi­ron­ment we were in was a home un­der such pres­sure. Marie Curie brought com­fort, ex­pe­ri­ence and laugh­ter to us.

‘When mum died it could have been chaos. How­ever, Mar­garet-Ann was there and it could not have gone bet­ter. She kept it calm and peace­ful. We can look back and say that we have spe­cial mem­o­ries, as aw­ful as it was.

‘We went to bed at about 10pm. Mar­garet-Ann called us about quar­ter of an hour later and said we needed to come back.

‘Mar­garet-Ann held mum and put her in the right po­si­tion and then helped us hold her. She phys­i­cally put us in po­si­tion. My arm was round mum. She then stood back and left us to it.

‘ We talked to mum and stroked her hair. She waited and watched. Ev­ery­thing seemed to reach a peak when mum died. Mar­garet-Ann was a close part of the team and made mum’s fi­nal mo­ments as good as they could have been. Af­ter, when we were all ready, she pre­pared mum and called all the right peo­ple.

‘Mar­garet-Ann dis­ap­peared, like Nanny McPhee but bet­ter look­ing, when we didn’t need her any­more. She shared that night with us, then that was her gone.’

Gemma Smith at Marie Curie said: ‘ At Marie Curie, we want to reach more peo­ple who are liv­ing with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness and who need our hands- on care and sup­port.

‘Read­ers should speak to their GP or dis­trict nurse to ask about re­ceiv­ing our ser­vices, which in­clude the nurs­ing ser­vice de­scribed so well by Fiona and a vol­un­teer helper ser­vice.

‘Our ser­vices are free to families.’

Trea­sured mem­ory: Fiona Ben­nett with her mum Cather­ine on Fiona’s wed­ding day in 2007.

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