Garden House Hospice

Feb 17, 2016

The word 'Hospice' isn't really very user friendly.

Not for me anyway. A Hospice is where people go to die. So, when it was suggested to me by my Oncologist that I stay in a hospice, to say I wasn’t keen was an understatement! However, my pain levels weren’t being managed and I needed something to happen to get back on track. I had a conversation with Big Brother Callum on Wednesday, and I suggested that if the Hospice was called something else, I might be able to handle it a bit better. So we coined the phrase ‘Igloo’. You can leave an Igloo. That’s fine.

So this is where Letchworth’s Garden House Hospice came in. A small hospice, five minutes from my own home. On the Thursday afternoon, I was admitted into my own little room, with a view of a lovely, cared for garden. I met the nurses and a Doctor, and told them in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be staying for very long, maybe a day or two, and then I would be going home with my family. Max was coming to see me on Saturday, and who would want to spend a day visiting someone in a Hospice!

The staff nodded in agreement, went through my drugs list and I made myself comfortable. The next day, Fiona and Michelle came to visit me in The Igloo. Spirit’s were raised and I started to feel calmer about things.

On Saturday, Max assured me that he was fine to visit me in the Igloo, so when he arrived, complete with souvenir mug from Cats the Musical, I was really pleased. He’d had a late night the night before, and an early start that morning to be be able to get the train to visit me from Manchester, so at one point, the nurses came in to find him asleep on the armchair in my room, and me asleep in my bed. They just left us to it. They were great like that.

Over the next few days my opinion of the Igloo/Hospice changed substantially. I hadn’t realised what other services they offer there. We had support workers come in to us and offer counselling, not only to me, but to Ross and the kids. They were given activity packs to keep them occupied as well as comfort quilts which were to be used as something that they would associate with a “safe place”. There was a lounge next to my room so they didn’t have to spend all their time there looking at me feeling all sorry for myself. Another massive thing that I hadn’t realised was that I wasn’t tied to the hospice. I could come and go, as and when I wanted, as long as I was back in time for my medication. This meant I was able to go to Rachel and Greg’s to watch the 6 Nation rugby.

I was also able to greet Dad and Grandma Julie when they arrived at ours. I had a little cry, and was taken back to what I had come to regard as my little oasis of calm, The Igloo. As this was half term, we had planned on the kids going to stay up in the North East for a few days. However, we decided that it would be best if Grandma and Grandad stayed at ours so the kids were able to visit me when they wanted, and they’d have some days out around me. And crucially, get to see me on my birthday.

I had plenty of visitors to the Igloo, as well as support from the staff. I was still adamant that I was going to be home for my birthday, but after a week in the Igloo, I was still there, relinquishing control of things to the staff slowly but surely and starting to realise that BIG STUFF was happening and I couldn’t deal with it all on my own. If I was still in the Igloo for my birthday, it didn’t matter. I was, after all, Just Visiting, and Big Brother Callum made me a sign to make sure that I remembered that.

Just Visiting