I came to the hospice two weeks and two days ago. I had come to see it the week previously and I just thought it’s calm and so restful. Before actually coming into the hospice I had said that I didn’t want to come here; I said I wanted to die at home alone. My sister was horrified at me saying this, so I came here; to begin with it was more for her sake than mine really. As soon as I actually got here though, I thought: “I like it here. I like these people, I trust these people”. I don’t trust very easily, but as soon as I came for a stroll around I felt safe.
I’ve become close with everyone here. There is a young chap who’s been cleaning the last few days and he has been fantastic. He comes in and just chats about general stuff. He’s not intrusive, he’s just friendly; and that to me is so important. I can’t think of anyone I don’t like here.
I’ve had people just come in and chat to me. That’s really special, especially for someone who finds it difficult to speak; I have a stammer and because of my stammering everything I say takes about four times as long. My speech gets worse every day and I do get very frustrated by that. But here they just make it alright, and that’s absolutely great for me.
I was so determined that I was going to stay at home; I hate to make a fuss so staying at home felt like the best thing, but my sister had experience of people she knew being in a hospice. She explained to me that they would make me more comfortable.
When I first came here I wasn’t very well at all, but the staff instantly got me into routines and tried to make me happy and it just seemed to work. I trust them because they respect me and they respect my feelings.
I’ve always been very active, so when the doctors first told me that I had heart failure it felt like the last straw for me. I used to own and train horses, I taught people to ride, drove carriages and then I changed career and became a school teacher. I can’t even stand up now. As soon as my illness started my stammer came back, even though it had been gone for years. That was heart breaking for me. People tell me to sing what I want to say; it can actually work, but the thing is you feel really silly when you do it!
My family is very spread out. My daughter is in Torquay and she can call the hospice and talk to someone who knows me and who knows how I’m changing day by day. She can then call up her brother who is in the States. It calms things down for them because they can call up and get told exactly what’s happening.
You’re not told when to wake up, or when to shower, when to speak or not to speak, or when to go back to bed. They’ll come around and ask if you want help having a bath or a shower and if you say no then they won’t make you.
I’m not very good at being told what to do. I am certain I made the right choice to be here in the hospice. I am perfectly calm. All the choices I make are my own and no one is telling me what to do. The nurses are fantastic. They’ll have a laugh with you; they have the time to do that here. They have lots to do but they all work together and you can see them all working together.
You feel like a person, rather than a patient because they care.