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It's funny what you remember

We receive many letters of thanks from the wives and husbands of those who we’ve cared for, through their final weeks, days and hours. We received this from Joy:

 

My Story is not about a big event, but the little actions that made such a huge difference to me.

My husband, Michael, was a super fit and very active man. Asides from a dose of mumps at 18, he’d never suffered from any illnesses, until he collapsed unexpectedly one day. It was a brain tumour, which after an operation, chemotherapy and more treatment, was found to be incurable.

Michael was always very strong minded, and decided he would ignore all the medical advice he’d been given, insisting the only thing wrong with him was the treatment I was making him endure. I went with him to all the concerts, shows and meetings he insisted on, despite what the doctor had told him. I even arranged for someone to be with him at the football and the rugby, which only added to his irritation.

His medication meant he couldn’t sleep properly, so we were both up most of the night. The stress was really starting to take its toll on me, and after five straight sleepless nights, I lost my cool, screaming at him to get into bed and stay there.

I rang my Doctor the next day and told him I wasn’t coping. ‘Thank goodness’ he said. ‘Now you’ve asked for help, I can arrange for someone to come and visit you.’ That’s when our involvement with Dorothy House began.

I received a phone call the next day to tell me someone was coming that night so I could get some sleep. The relief I felt was wonderful, being told to go and get into bed! And if I’d seen no other help than that I would still be grateful, but there was more to come.

A Dorothy House Care visitor managed to persuade Michael to try Day Care – something he had up until then always refused. He was complaining that I was watching him all the time. With a wink to me, she pointed out a day away would mean he could relax without me, ‘hovering over him’.

I can confirm, the one day a week Michael was at Day Care was extremely relaxing!

Michael suffered another collapse soon after and spent ten days in hospital, emerging with a collection of 10 tablets, several with unpleasant side effects.

After a brief stay at the Hospice to review and stabilise his medication, he came home needing only a couple of pills a day.

As Michael’s condition deteriorated, we were told he would need 24 hour care. The support I got from Dorothy House gave me the confidence to insist I would honour Michael’s wish that I bring him home. Even though it was hard, I’m still glad I did.

Michael would not discuss his illness with me, but he must have spoken to someone at Dorothy House, because after what proved to be his final collapse, he was admitted to Dorothy House within a few hours, and died there that evening. He told them, he did not want to die at home, because it would be upsetting for me, and might mean I would be unable to stay there.

There are so many little kindnesses that come back to me; the wonderful driver who would collect Michael for Day Care, reminiscing with him over family memories of Monkton Combe, and driving him home that way so Michael could see the village; the aromatherapy we both had arranged for us; Elizabeth, my bereavement counsellor who visited me after Michael’s death and helped me to let go of my grief and anger over his illness, and the way he had treated me.

But for some reason, what sticks in my mind is the Chef, who made Michael’s favourite curry for him – an extra hot one which he claimed I had told him he ‘wasn’t allowed’! That same Chef was so very kind to me after Michael died, making me tea and toast, despite having finished work and having somewhere to be.

For that I am extremely grateful.