At the halfway point in Dry July Stuart Poole is the highest fundraiser in the ACT and has chosen to support The Canberra Hospital. Here, Stuart has generously offered to share his story of why Dry July is a cause close to his heart.This time last year my brother and I attempted Dry July; we did our best, but at times we received a few golden tickets, and sometimes we just needed a naughty drink.
Why naughty? Well at this time last year our beautiful Mum was fading away. Mum had pancreatic cancer. Around this time last year our worst fears were confirmed, the spots on her liver were cancer too.
It was very stressful to watch our beautiful Mother on life support, it was hard to talk with doctors about how much longer it should continue. Sleep was infrequent, with a couple of 1am phone calls to “get in now”. We were doing our best, but given the circumstances, we snuck a few drinks in. None of our close friends that had sponsored us seemed to mind given the circumstances. Family were coming to say their goodbyes, and every time I left the hospital at night, you knew each goodbye could be the last.
My brother and I both started working part time, so we could have an extra day with Mum each in the week. On Friday August 29th when I went to see her, Mum was weak; she asked me to let her rest, so I went home at lunch and came back in the afternoon. Her friend Coleen came to visit from Wagga (Mum was in Canberra Hospice) and looked at Mum and fled the room and the hospice in tears. She couldn’t believe what she saw. Mum was down to less than 40 kilos, her face was grey and wrinkly. I guess because I had watched the transition I was used to how Mum looked these days.
At 5pm my brother rang from the hospice, he said Mum was very unwell and he was worried, he thought we better get in. My partner drove me in and on the way in the hospice staff handed us a card, with instructions on what was about to happen. It told us what to do when someone dies. I asked “is this it?” They said “yes, your Mother is about to leave us.” I was guttered, nothing can prepare you for this.
My brother and I held a hand each all night, as gradually Mum’s breathing slowed down, and became more and more “rattily”. I asked my Aunty, who was an ex nurse, “is that the death rattles?” “Yes”, she said, without elaborating. At 2 minutes past midnight Mum slowed right down and stopped. Dad proclaimed, “I think she’s gone”. My Aunty checked and said, “I’ll get the nurses.”
That was it, the beautiful lady that had raised us, taught us right from wrong, nursed us when we were sick, made play-dough for us on rainy days and all the other things a good Mother should do was gone forever. And that was that. I will never get over losing Mum. She was the best Mum you could hope for.
We can never change the horrible year that was 2014, nor can we bring Mum back. But we can help to raise money so other people can have a chance, so other families can be comfortable when they visit their loved ones in the ward.
I wish I had studied harder at school, so I could be a doctor, and be a part of the solution. Raising funds for Dry July is probably the best I can do. I feel good without alcohol. I’m hoping to lose a few kilos as well along the way. Maybe I will stay dry for a while after too?
It’s nice to be able to give back. The staff at the hospital and hospice were so nice to us.
To donate to Stuart visit: https://au.dryjuly.com/profile/stuartpoole.