“I was in the Army for 11 years,” says Joseph. “When I left, I worked as a policeman for 10 years, and then got a job as a HGV driver. I enjoyed being able to cycle to and from work.”
On one ride home, however, Joseph began to feel unwell.
“When I got home, I went straight to the doctors,” he says. “They discovered that I had a heart condition, cardiomyopathy.”
Joseph’s heart problems worsened and he had a pacemaker fitted, but just a few months later he was rushed into hospital with bowel pain, and underwent surgery to have his large intestine removed. After the operation, he was still experiencing problems with his heart, so his doctor referred him to a specialist heart nurse, Ava.
“Ava suggested that I go to Phyllis Tuckwell,” says Joseph. “I had always associated a hospice with dying, so I was quite reluctant. But we had a chat and she assured me that I wasn’t dying, not yet anyway! She said that that the people at Phyllis Tuckwell could help me. When I got here, everyone was very supportive and it didn’t take long to settle in.”
Joseph was offered a place at one of our Day Hospice sessions, part of our Living Well service, where patients can visit the Hospice once a week, from 10am-3pm. Here, they can attend a variety of sessions including Physiotherapy and Spiritual Healing, as well as others which give tips on subjects such as coping with stress and learning relaxation techniques. While they are here, they can also enjoy a cooked lunch as well as refreshments throughout the day, and can talk to our Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Complementary Therapists, Social Work Advisors, Benefits & Entitlements Advisors, Counsellors and Chaplains, and can visit the Hospice Chapel for services, if they wish.
“I’ve had Spiritual Healing, which has helped a lot,” Joseph continues. “I’ve also been talking to Sue, one of the Chaplains. Just being able to talk things through has really helped.
You get a lovely meal as well, which I don’t get at home as I live on my own, so I tend to just snack. The social side of it is really good. It’s nice to sit with other people and have a chat over lunch; I chat all the time! Because I live on my own, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. I enjoy meeting other people who have the same sort of problems as me. I have physiotherapy sessions with one of the Physiotherapists here. I suffer from stress quite a lot too, so I’m going to some classes for that, as well. And Bev, one of the nurses, has helped me with some forms I needed to fill out. When I’m at home I can walk to the shop and the doctor’s surgery, which are at the end of my road, but it’s nice to come to the Hospice to get out for a bit.”
Joseph belongs to both the Royal British Legion and the Royal Engineers Association. “I don’t get to those meetings as often as I would like to though,” he says, “as I can’t drive anymore, so it’s difficult to get to places.”
“When people talk about a hospice you immediately think death,” he says, “until you get here and you think of life carrying on. You’ve got people here who can help with any of your problems, mental or physical. And if you’ve got any questions, you can ask and you get answers. It’s all-round care – physical, emotional, spiritual and practical.”