Marie, from Nelson has cared for her husband Michael for the past five years following a stroke.
The stroke caused 75-year-old Michael to suffer huge losses in cognitive functions, leaving him unable to speak apart from saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and being unable to walk on his own.
However, it was only 18 months-ago when things eventually got too much for Marie that she expressed her concerns to a district nurse who suggested that she spoke to Pendleside Hospice.
“At the time doctors suspected that Michael had bowel cancer too, but as he was already quite poorly we decided it wasn’t in his best interests for him to undergo any further investigations. It came at a time when I had been more or less on my own for a few months and it really got me down,” recalls Marie.
“When the district nurse mentioned calling the hospice I said ‘we don’t know if he has got cancer or not’, but she said he doesn’t need to have cancer, and that they would help us anyway. I was under the impression like hundreds of people I’ve spoken to that the hospice only helps people with cancer. But I was wrong”
After being put in touch with the hospice in the morning, the Hospice at Home team came to see her that afternoon.
“When Pam from Hospice at Home came to speak to me about Michael I was a wreck. I was in a bad place at that point, you just get run down because it’s a 24/7 job. But she was absolutely lovely.”
Pam offered for the Hospice at Home to come and night sit so Marie could get a good night’s sleep.
“Well to me that was just wonderful, you know. If you get sleep you can cope better during the day. She also asked if I got out during the day and I said ‘no, not unless my daughter comes,’ so they offered to put someone in for a couple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon so I could go out somewhere.”
Unfortunately, three months ago Michael developed pneumonia and deteriorate quite badly and he ended up staying in inpatients for a week and a half for symptom control.
“When he was in there I never thought twice about it, I never thought ‘I wonder if he’s ok?’ I knew he’d be looked after properly.”
As well as accessing Hospice at Home and Inpatient support, Michael also attended Day Services until he became too poorly to attend.
Speaking about the hospice and Pendleside’s staff Marie added: “You get down without actually realising it, just one day you get up and think I can’t do this.
“Staff from the hospice visit every Wednesday night, but they’re not just someone that comes and cares while you go to bed, it’s like having a friend and having someone to talk to that knows what they are talking about.
“I honestly couldn’t do without them, they’re wonderful.”