Dawn's Story | The Hospice of St. Francis

Dawn's Story

“I don’t have quantity, but I’d like a little bit of quality.”

“When I first arrived at the Hospice the doctors gave me two days to live. I felt like I was lost at sea and couldn’t find myself.”

“I’d like to be more independent. I’d lost the ability to look after myself. I couldn’t talk - I’d lost the ability to have conversations with everyone I love. Now I’m hoping to go home. I’ve been given a gift and I continue to unwrap it every day.”

Dawn, 56, has been living with end-stage COPD and emphysema for over 16 years, experiencing several hospitalisations, including once being on a ventilator for nine days. The degenerative condition has left her on constant oxygen and effectively unable to move from the neck down.

She describes how the symptoms were becoming too much, “For the last ten months I simply haven’t thrived. I’ve basically been dying. I was scared to cough, scared to eat because it would mean needing to go to the toilet, scared that things would lead to panic attacks when I couldn’t breathe.”

“In the ambulance, on the way to the Hospice, I was so petrified. They took me into the first room on the corridor. My husband said the aim was to get home, but initially the doctors said they didn’t think it was possible. Since then I’ve been improving, getting better and better. It is the first time in a year that I’ve felt at peace. Although it wiped me out, I managed to have a proper shower today. I don’t have quantity, but I’d like a little bit of quality.”

“I’m really malnourished, my body was hurting, so the team are building up my strength to get me more mobile. I’ve had the longest and best sleep I’ve had in decades.”

“The doctors and nurses are like therapists. They remind me that I’m a person that still matters. They sit on the bed and comfort and console. They are so genuine. It’s everything; the privacy, feeling safe and secure – even the view (of the gardens).”

“People shouldn’t be scared to come to the Hospice. Everybody has time and nothing is ever too much. The nurses get upset if I don’t press the button to ask for help! They say ‘that’s why we do what we do’ – they simply want to help.”

In her time at the hospice Dawn’s condition has improved dramatically.

“I’ve been able to shower myself, wash my hair and dress without assistance. I can move around on my rollator. The rehab team never gave up on me and they helped me find my creativity again. I’ve loved walking in the gardens and visiting my favourite parts of it such as the oriental garden.”

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