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Jane and Dave Porter, UK
To the friends of Patricia Allen
Dave and I visited Pat last Saturday, Sunday and Monday (4-7 Nov
2011). We were emissaries for you all.
Sister Monica, a very caring and exceedingly capable sister, who is in charge of the St Louis Hospital in Jerusalem
(where Pat has been moved back to today) spent time with us to explain what has happened to Pat since she was admitted
on 10th Oct. to St Josephs Hospital.
Sister Johanna, who is in charge at Kiryat Yearim (Sisters of St Joseph) where Pat has lived for the last 15/16 years and
Sister Kathy, a fellow hermit at
Kiryat Yearim also took time to tell us all they knew.
Also Sr Valerie who is Sr Johanna's "birth" sister and has special responsibility for the
sisters (among whom Pat is counted) in St. Louis Hospital contributed
to our picture of this time in Pat's life.
Pat has spent time in these three places since 10 October 2011.
St Louis Hospital, we would call a hospice, is run by the Srs of St Joseph and has
a reputation reaching beyond Jerusalem for the standard of loving care they offer.
St Joseph's Hospital, a hospital as opposed to a hospice, is also run by the Srs of St Joseph. A very caring
hospital but limited in what they are able to offer compared to
the big Jewish hospitals in Jerusalem.
Sha'arei Zedek is one of the big Jewish hospitals in Jerusalem.
From the four precious sisters listed above and from our own experience this, as far as
we are aware, is what has happened to Pat in recent weeks.
Somewhere around end of Sept / beginning of Oct Pat was aware that something was wrong. She saw her doctor who referred
her to a neurologist for tests. At this time, in conversation with Sr Kathy, Pat said that she thought she was dying.
Sr Kathy felt she was exaggerating and said she didn't look to her like someone who was dying, which pleased Pat.
Sr Kathy had done some grocery shopping for
her. Pat wanted to pay her for the items and asked Sr Kathy to come through
to her sleeping area while she found the money - apparently Pat had never invited Sr Kathy beyond her living area before.
In her bedroom Pat took about ten minutes rifling through drawers, envelopes and folders before she found the money she was
looking for. This made Sr Kathy think that perhaps things were in fact quite serious for Pat to be so confused.
A couple of days later and before the tests had been carried out on Mon 10 Oct
2011 Pat fell in her home between the sleeping
and living areas where there is a very small change in level. She had said to the other sisters "Please, if you don't
see me in chapel for prayers don't worry, I'm having more difficulty walking and may not feel able to come over".
Fortunately, the sisters were worried and when she hadn't been seen all day and didn't go to prayers they came looking for
her and found her on the floor. Malou, one of the wonderful Phillipino girls who run the Guest House, had to climb through a
window to open the door. Pat reckoned she had been there about two hours.
Pat was taken to St Joseph's Hospital where the tests were run that the neurologist had asked
for. Nothing showed up in these tests.
Pat then had a CT scan which showed a vascular malformation in the head and a severe oedema.
The details of this are in an email from Sr Johanna dated 23 October and would give more information to those medically trained.
Pat had said she did not want surgery but in fact the doctors decided independently that surgery was not a good option
and could do more harm than good. The malformation they thought was old, possibly from birth. There was no evidence of a
stroke. Over part of this time Daphne Grimes was in Jerusalem and able to visit and encourage Pat.
On 23 October Pat was moved to St Louis Hospital for continuous nursing care. She was eating well, talking much more
slowly than usual but able to respond with speech, sometimes more lucid than others, often cross with herself for forgetting
who somebody was. The nursing staff were trying to get her on her feet again, literally and although very weak she was
Pat was put on two types of medication. One to prevent epileptic fits, which she had not suffered from but could be an
effect of her present condition, and one because of the oedema (sorry not to be more specific).
On Sunday 30 October - or it could have been the Monday - we had a phone call from Sr Johanna to say that Pat had taken a
dramatic turn for the worse. She had started bleeding heavily from her rectum. She was rushed to St Joseph's
where they stopped the bleeding. They carried out a colonoscopy which was completely clear, but also discovered that the
platelet count in her blood was very low (I don't know the correct medical term) meaning that just a small wound could
cause heavy bleeding as the platelets are a coagulating agent.
Apparently the medication for epilepsy can have this side effect
on 1 in 1000 people. Pat was
immediately taken off the medication. She was given a blood transfusion.
Sr Johanna's words were that from this time she seemed to "give up". Pat could no longer
speak, was asleep most of the time or kept her eyes closed, and barely ate. She was moved back to St Louis
Hospital on Fri 4th Nov. She could not have been in a more caring and loving
place. We arrived on the evening of this day at Kyriat Yearim (Abou
Gosh). Sr Johanna joined us while we ate and told us of Pat's
journey over these last weeks and how she felt, as many of us if
not all of us do, that Pat wants to go home and hopes that it
won't take too long.
We first saw Pat on the morning of Sat 5th Nov. Sr Johanna said that her response to our being there was the
most animated she had been for days. She had her eyes open for quite a while and gave a glimmer of a smile. She got tired very
quickly closed her eyes for a bit and would then open them again. We read her Jodi's letter and Hanna's email which we took
out with us and told her how many people loved her and were praying for her all over the world. We sat with her, held her
hands and prayed with her.
She was in a room with two other beds. Sr Johanna had asked specially that she be put in a quiet room - both the other
occupants were asleep most of the time. St Louis is an old French hospital, very solid stone walls and floors, with
views of olive and palm trees out the window of Pat's room. The bed linen is white with tiny sprigs of blue flowers with tiny
green leaves - very fresh and pretty. Somebody visited from Kyriat Yearim at least every other day. We met Sr Monica, who
spent time telling us all she knew. She also wanted to be sure that somebody who had known Pat from before her life in Israel
(and no medical insurance) could confirm that Pat would not want life
Sr Monica's concern was that Pat's decision might be based on finance. We reassured her that although we had never had that
specific conversation with Pat we felt that this would be her wish with or without medical insurance. We also met Sr Valerie
with specific responsibility for the Sisters of St Joseph. What wonderful women.
In the afternoon we returned to the Guest House at Kyriat Yearim (about 7 miles from Jerusalem just in the hills off the
Tel Aviv road) to borrow a guitar and practice the drive on our own while it was quiet on Shabbat. We returned to the hospital.
Dave read Song of Solomon 2 10-13, Isaiah 49 15-16 and Romans 8 18, 28, 35 and 37-end. The only clear word we heard Pat say in
our time with her was "Amen" at the end of these readings. After reading Dave played and sang softly. She mouthed the
words to several of the songs, most clearly to "Oh the sweetness of your love".
On Sunday 6thPat responded with a smile when I told her how brave we were being by driving into Jerusalem to
see her - she and we had always gone by bus even though we drove everywhere else in Israel. Throughout our visits on Sat and Sun
she sometimes had her eyes open, often had them closed and occasionally we would see the whisper of a smile.
On Sun morning Dave read prayers and anointed Pat with oil. Then we sang
"There is a river whose streams make glad".
Pat responded by mouthing the words and then she lifted her good arm on high in praise - she
barely has the strength to move at all - this was very special and very moving.
We left when her lunch arrived and went to the Holy Sepulchre where we went up to Calvary,
prayed for her and lit a candle. We returned in the afternoon and sang again, she visibly mouthed the words with us
of "Fear not for I have redeemed you", "My Jesus I love Thee",
"O the blood of Jesus", "At the cross", "All the riches of His grace"
and the "Eight-fold Hallelujah". When we left she was sleeping.
On Monday after mass in the convent chapel Sr Johanna told us she had received two phone calls concerning Pat during the
service. Pat was bleeding again and was being rushed to Sha'arei Zedek one of the main Jewish hospitals in Jerusalem.
St Joseph's had said they had done all they were able to do the previous time Pat was there and didn't have the equipment
to investigate further, hence the decision to go to Sha'arei Zedek.
We went with Sr Johanna driven by Jean-Claude who drives the sisters wherever they need to go (Sr Kathy came too as she had
an appointment at the same hospital) to Sha'arei Zedek where Pat had been admitted as an
emergency, Sr Valerie had been with her all the time.
The bleeding had stopped on its own but she looked even paler and weaker and did not respond to us at all. We talked to her
and prayed and sang and held her hands, Dave recited the "Nunc Dimittis" to her. Sr Valerie sang quietly with us too.
A doctor came to ask questions and gently shook her awake. She opened her eyes for a little while but quickly went back to
sleep, she must have been exhausted, losing blood and being moved when already she was very weak. She was asleep again when we
said goodbye - our plane left that afternoon.
Weds 9th Nov - I spoke to Sr Johanna this morning. Pat went into a coma yesterday. At Sha'arei Zedek they
diagnosed a brain tumour. She is being moved back to St Louis today for palliative care. As we've already said but it bears
saying again, she could not be in a more caring and loving place. Pray for her release.
When the Lord takes her home her body will be buried in the Christian Cemetery on the Mount of Olives along
side Sisters of St Joseph who have gone on before. Pat relinquished her plot on Cumbrae in 2004.
To put you in the picture
Pat did not want to take out any health insurance so the direct financing of these days has fallen to the Sisters of St Joseph.
27,950 NIS (just under £5000) has already been paid and the payments for the second stay at St Joseph's and the stay at Sha'arei
Zedek (around £900 per day before extras) have yet to be made. Between us all we have sent 24000 NIS to Sr Johanna (just under
£4300) for which the sisters are very thankful. If anyone wants and is able to support Pat in this way the bank details were
attached to an email dated 24 Oct although the Swift Code is wrong and should be BARDILIT or, the sisters'
address is Sisters of St Joseph, 1, Rehov Notre Dame, Abou Gosh 90845, Israel. We always register post to
Israel, or, if you prefer, financial support could go through Bill Farra or through us.
Jodi and Howard are going to Israel on 14 Nov for 10 days and staying with the sisters at Kyriat
Yearim, (Abou Gosh) so we will have more first hand news soon.
With our love,
Dave and Jane
4 November: Arrived safely. Long
chat with Sr. Johanna. Pat back in
St. Louis Hospice. They did a
colonoscopy in St.
Joseph's hospital and the results were absolutely clear. They
think the bleeding was probably due to low platelet count which means any small
wound could cause bleeding. We are
going to follow Sr. Johanna to the hospice in the morning. She
says Pat is very weak and says hardly anything but is happy to join in prayer. We
will text again tomorrow after we've been with her.
Jane & Dave