A letter from Dr. Matt Dore

Dear friends

Dear friends,  

Like many of us, I have a deep trepidation and fear about what is to befall us. Will it affect me, my family, my children, my elderly parents or frail close ones? These are questions which I do not know the answer, but with a heavy heart, likely in some cases, will be yes.   

It is humbling to realise this is what our patients go through every day. The overwhelming uncertainty overhanging their minds. Unsure about the future, family, and suffering. This situation allows us insight into our patient’s experience. I often hear patients say “no-one listened to me until I came here” as they felt isolated to talk about these fears. We have a huge advantage, we can share this fear with the whole population, with each other, we are not isolated, we are in this truly together.   

I don’t pretend to be wise about how to deal with this situation, so I look at our patients who have. Our patients tell me its ok to be fearful. Being brave is being scared and not succumbing. I look to them, and they are teaching me to take each day as it comes. Day by day. As the wise ‘fast and furious’ film franchise would say “life at ¼ mile at a time”.  

Not to be melodramatic, but I think the next few months is going to define this generation of medical / nursing / carers / health professionals of all kinds and the army of everyone supporting.  As routine life closes around us, as schools close, as office work shuts down, I wonder, should I run, and hide away?   

But then I realise we, all together, can make life just a little bit better. One more bad thing in this world does not take away the many good things. The reason I came into this work I believe, is the same reason almost everyone in Hospice did, to make a small difference, and do some (just a little) good. I see that spirit in our team every single day and more intensely recently as everyone works towards this common goal.  

I see Hospice as a beacon of this hope. With everything else closing, we will always look after those in need, give sensible and compassionate advice and care. And I believe we have already won. There is simply too much human spirit, ingenuity, and effort being put into this. Both here in Hospice, nationally and internationally. There are developments of new treatments, a massive co-ordinated vaccine trial across multiple countries, and an increasingly large political effort to beat this.   

Carl Jung had a way of thinking I believe is very helpful. He said pretend you are ‘you’ in the future telling yourself now in the present what to do. What would future ‘you’ say to yourself now? I think my future self is telling me “you are doing well, keep going”   

Dr. Matt Dore

Palliative Care Consultant at Northern Ireland Hospice

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