Neville was unconscious when he was transferred from hospital to our In-Patient Unit at the Hospice in Farnham.
“They didn’t think I’d make it through the night!” he laughs. “When I woke up, after being unconscious for three days, I just thought it was morning! I felt perfectly normal, not ill at all. And then I saw my family there, and one of Phyllis Tuckwell’s doctors, and I said “hello, what are you lot doing here?!” Everybody was shocked – they didn’t expect me to come out of it.”
“This place is absolutely amazing,” Neville continues. “It is just unbelievably good. And that’s from the cleaning staff right up to the CEO. They’re such nice people. I’ve never met people like it; I’ve never met compassion like it in my life. It just knocks me sideways thinking about it. It’s the caring, they actually do care, and they take it all in their stride and they never moan. It’s just a fantastic place, it really is.
“I couldn’t walk when I came here, before I left the hospital. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t even stand on my own two feet. But about a week after I came round, the physios came in to see me and gave me some exercises. It works, it strengthens all your top muscles and your ankles. I stuck religiously to the regime and I was standing up in about two days! So now I can stand up perfectly adequately on my own, and I’m pleased as punch.”
As well as seeing our Physiotherapists, Neville was also visited by one of our Occupational Therapists, Theresa, who brought along a powered wheelchair for Neville to try out. “I was quite surprised,” he says. “She asked if I’d like to have a go in the chair, and I said ‘yeah that’d be fun’, so I had a go up the corridor and back. And she said ‘well, you can keep it’ and I said ‘how long for?’ and she said ‘until you go home’. It’s been an absolute joy. Whilst I can stand up and walk across the room, I’d have to do it with a frame, but with this wheelchair I can go anywhere I want. I like bombing round the corridors, riding round the garden. It’s a beautiful garden, it really is. I’ve been round and round it so many times. Most days, as long as the sun’s out, I’m out there all the time. I sit outside and do my crosswords. It’s got so many different plants in it. I wouldn’t know one plant from another but I see the gardeners out there and I have a chat with them. The Hospice has given me so much confidence. Being here has been one of the best experiences of my life. They care so much. You’re made to feel like you’re really wanted.”
Neville has been experiencing some breathlessness, which staff at Phyllis Tuckwell have been helping him to manage. “It’s just my breathing,” he says. “Every little trauma goes straight there. Not that there’s anything wrong, it’s just that’s what happens. But a quick couple of puffs on my Ventolin inhaler, a few deep breaths, and it goes away.” Staff have been helping Neville with some techniques to ease his breathlessness. “When you breathe in, a long breath out, and then breathe in again but through the nose. That was a good tip, and it works. And don’t do more than you can,” he nods.
“The Hospice is an amazing place,” he concludes, “absolutely amazing. The doctors listen to you, same with the nurses, they stand there and listen to what you want, which is not all that prevalent in our society, people are in too much of a hurry, they haven’t got time, dashing about all over the place. But here’s it’s not like that. I would recommend it to anybody.”
“Don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not a place for dying, it’s a place for living. That’s what they’re all about here. All they care about is making you live, comfortably.”