National Hospice Care Week – Jane’s Story

Hospice Care Week is a national campaign which aims to raise awareness of the importance of hospice care across the UK and runs from 6th to 12th October 2014.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK will be touched by hospice care at some point in their lives – either directly as a patient, or as a friend / family member of someone with a terminal illness.

Compton Hospice has been providing trusted end of life care for patients diagnosed with an incurable illness, and their families, for over 30 years. Our care is guided by the needs of the family and focuses on providing dignified medical, psychological and spiritual support at the point when a persons illness is deemed no longer curable.

To show our support for the national campaign we will be sharing the stories of a number of patients and relatives who have been supported by Compton Hospice over the years.

This is Jane’s Story:

Jane MatthewsMy name is Jane Alison Matthews (formerly Marsh) and I am 55 years old.

In early 2002 my late husband, Brian Marsh, started to feel a little unwell. And that’s all we thought it was really, that he was a little unwell. He was a very fit and active man. We didn’t realise the extent of how poorly he was until one morning I badgered him to go to the doctors because he was feeling lethargic and kept coughing.

He went to the doctors on a Thursday and 4 days later we found out he’d got terminal lung cancer. Just 13 weeks later he passed away on 18th June 2002. It was unbelievably quick.

To be told the news that Brian was dying was unbelievable. I refused to believe it. When we were given the terminal diagnosis I just couldn’t believe it, he looked so fit and well.

It was a palliative nurse at Deansley Hospital who asked if we’d thought about approaching Compton Hospice for support. I remember Brian saying ‘Compton? I’m not ready to go yet!’. He thought that going to Compton Hospice meant that was it, he was gonna die. I know that’s not the case now, but it did scare him..…and me initially. So we were reluctant, but once we started to get to know Compton we realise that it’s not just a pIace you go to die, it’s so much more. I now know a lot more about the hospice and the help it also gives to families.

We had a lot of support very quickly. Brian deteriorated rapidly, within a fortnight he wasn’t able to walk. So we needed help extremely quickly, and Compton stepped up and made sure that he had an airbed at home. They made sure he was comfortable. He had a nurse visit him every day, to help move him and keep him pain free.

One of the nurses, I can’t remember her name, came to the house to support Brian. I remember she first started visiting because Brian wasn’t handling morphine very well. He’d become delirious and was having hallucinations. Within 20 minutes of her coming in she had phoned our local chemist and doctors, and made adjustments to his medication. Within an hour he was a completely different man, it was amazing. An oxygen supply was also arranged for Brian to have in the house. The support was absolutely fantastic.

It was also good in the respect that Compton were there for me and my children. They talked to us and tried to help us come to terms with what was happening to Brian.

When Compton realised it was all getting a bit too much for us, as well as Brian, the nurses at suggested some respite on their Inpatient Unit. He was only there for 6 or 7 days. Brian used to be a grenadier guard so I remember thinking it was a nice touch that the nurses put the parade on the TV for him. And do you know what? He remembered every step and sort of marched in his bed along with the parade. On the Sunday morning, Fathers day, he called all the children in and told them how much he loved them and would miss them. At the time the hospice was made up of wards with 4 beds to a room, and so they moved him to a private room where we could all be together as a family. We had visitors coming in and out all of the time, but the hospice didn’t mind, they were happy to let people come and go. Brian passed away on a Tuesday morning.

What stood out for me about Compton was the constant care – not just for Brian, but for us as well. The support that we received, not only before he passed but afterwards, was incredible. Everything was done with such dignity and care. The nurses in particular were unbelievable. I don’t know how I would have got through those couple of weeks after he’d passed without knowing I could call on Compton. Some of us did have counselling which helped, as we were all dealing with things differently.

For us as a family, I know we couldn’t have got though this without Compton.

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