At last Wednesday morning has arrived and I am ready and waiting! As my carer completes her paper work and checks that I am warm and dry, ‘ready to receive’, my wonderful wife finishes preparing breakfast and telephones a friend.
“Right, I’m off now Paul, see you tomorrow. Have you got everything?”
“Yes thanks, see you.” I reply; “Thanks for sorting me out.”
I tuck into warm toast while my wife, Sylvia, makes arrangements for her lunch out and a well-deserved break. Today she too can relax, knowing that I will be cared for and safe at St Richard’s Hospice. I’ve been ill for four years now, finally diagnosed last year with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and we have fallen onto unexpectedly hard times.
Sylvia goes upstairs to get ready for the day and I keep an eye on the front window for any signs. My wheelchair had an overnight charge in preparation for the day and I have my medical supplies and change of clothes packed. The TV news drones on about nothing in particular and I struggle to pay any attention to it as I am so looking forward to my Wednesday.
My wife has arranged to spend a few hours out with her friend and have lunch at the garden centre. I’m so pleased that Sylvia has this time to herself and away from the emotional stress of looking after me. It makes life seem a little more normal for us.
Sylvia comes into the kitchen looking relaxed and smelling lovely.
“They’re here, darling.”
I get my chair into the upright position while Sylvia opens the front door. The silver St Richard’s minibus is parked up outside and the volunteer driver is already at the door for me by the time I get there.
I roll down the ramp and kiss Sylvia goodbye. I can almost see the tension ebb away from her as she ‘hands me over’ with a smile and a wave. It’s great for me to see that relief and relaxation time for her.
It’s a full team effort to make this happen though, from the generous fundraisers and donors through to the staff and volunteers. This day of respite and care doesn’t just happen – it comes together with planning and effort. We are both so grateful that it is us who are blessed with the benefit of this wonderful team.
The driver guides me onto the tail lift and I am greeted by the other volunteer, waiting to get me strapped in for the journey. I say hello to another patient already seated as they get me secured. I already feel safe and cared for and the day has hardly begun.
We all chatter away on the journey into Worcester, talking about the events of the previous week, what the day might hold and how everyone is faring. In no time the bus pulls into the hospice’s car park and beeps into reverse ready to discharge us. We are excited to arrive and eager to meet everyone inside, so happy to have the privilege of this care and to meet the team again.
I would like to thank everyone who supports the hospice and makes this care possible for patients like me and our better halves.