It seemed to be such a turning point for me that first time at day hospice.
My nurse had mentioned the ‘h’ word and I recoiled at the very thought of me going to a hospice. It was a negative emotional response based upon nothing other than assumption and imagination rather than experience or fact.
Very soon the manager and a physiotherapist came from the hospice for an assessment at my home, they were positive and cheerful about it all while I was still dubious.
That first day passed quickly and was emotionally exhausting. The hospice volunteers arrived with the minibus at home and I realised that I was a hospice patient, terminally ill, with carers, volunteers, nurses and so on, all flooding my life before I was ready.
But when will any of us be ready for that time? That time when our own mortality shocks the rhythm of what was our ‘normal’ into a different, yet shorter ‘normal’.
The journey away from home was actually towards a better wellbeing, I just didn’t know that yet.
As we arrived in the car park I felt a mixed bag of dread, doubt, nausea and excited expectancy. Descending the wheelchair lift I was ashamed at my own nervousness. I love meeting new people, new experiences are fine too, but going into a hospice; me!
I wanted…what did I want? To be away from here, to be well again, to be dealing with this better. All unrealistic. I had to show some grit, put on a smile and get on with it, for my wife’s sake I just had to get on with it. I drove forward into reception in my wheelchair.
And that’s another thing! One year I’m driving a new car, I’m working, I’m walking and generally just ‘doing’. The next I’m not able, I’m ill, in a wheelchair. I’m in a hospice for goodness sake.
God, I just bet you it’s all tartan slippers and crusty sandwiches. Loud television in the corner and dribbling patients sat in a circle staring into the past. It will smell of you know what, and I will not like it, I will not like it at all. But I will put up with it for my darling wife, to give her a day off from me.
From the welcome until the farewell it was not as I had feared, imagined or assumed. It was wonderfully up-lifting. It was unexpectedly raucous and happy. The day was filled with laughter and new friends. The hospice offered me a different future and I grabbed it with both paws.
By Paul Brockbank
During this challenging time, we are doing our utmost to continue caring for the patients and loved ones who need us most.
The way we work has been adapted, with many of our services delivered remotely – such as over the phone, or by video call. And we are working closely with other health care professionals in Worcestershire to share knowledge and expertise at this time.
Latest changes at St Richard’s Hospice
Please do not visit St Richard’s Hospice if you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough. If you have these symptoms, please stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. See NHS advice on coronavirus.
Thank you for your support and understanding at this difficult time.