“They say that things come in threes, and for me this has been the case. Sadly in March 2011, my lovely wife passed away. As a family we tried to pick up the pieces and carry on as normal. I loved working and for me having a job that I enjoyed, providing excellent customer service was very important. In November 2011, I had a heart attack. I was in hospital for about 4 weeks and then unable to work. Less than a year later in September 2012, I had a second heart attack, and this time, it was serious.

I had to be resuscitated twice. I was 51. In July 2013, after the usual hospital appointments, it was suggested that I attend St Luke’s. To my horror, I thought that the hospital was trying to tell me that this was the end. For me, the word hospice was so scary; it was a place that people never
came out of, it was where people had cancer. How I was to be proved wrong.

I was initially referred to St Luke’s for some Reiki and Reflexology to try to help with sleep. I was very skeptical to start with, but was so shocked by the benefits that I felt. Towards the end of my therapy treatments, Clare (who manages the day hospice) and one of St Luke’s doctors met with me. It was such a relief to have a ‘no kid gloves’ meeting with people who wanted to encourage me to have the best quality of life possible. It was the first time that I had talked about the three big things together – the sad loss of my wife, the loss of my health and the loss of my job.

What would I say to anyone who is scared of a hospice? Give it a go. It may sound cheesy, but
St Luke’s has given me my life back. Six months ago I was in a very dark place. I couldn’t see any future or purpose. St Luke’s has shown me that I have a purpose. The team all work together to
get you the best support they can.

I am still breathless and my heart only works at 10-15% capacity, however St Luke’s has given me the knowledge to know how to deal with and manage my symptoms. The liaison across the hospice staff team (and between outside health teams) is fantastic. They have kept my cardiac trauma team at the hospital up to date. St Luke’s social worker has helped me get access to equipment to get me mobile, the benefits adviser is working with the team to get me some support, the physiotherapist has shown me exercises to help with breathlessness, and the nurses have helped me to understand the symptoms that I have and why I have them.

I had access to a male counsellor who truly understood what I was going through. He let me talk about what was important to me, the things that I couldn’t talk to family and friends about. The volunteers are superb – they are genuinely interested in chatting about normal things and having a laugh. This has made a huge difference to me as I really miss having the normal banter that I used to have at work.

None of us know how long we have to live. I want to live as long as possible. I have learnt to be more patient and have much more empathy with people. As a man, it is so hard to ask for or accept help; you don’t want to lose your dignity and you don’t want to be a burden or worry to your children. Thanks to the staff and volunteers at St Luke’s, I really have got my life back. It may be very different from what I pictured I’ve years ago, but I’m in a good place now. I’m looking forward and that is thanks to St Luke’s.”