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Skunks, scrabble and smiles: life after Birmingham St Mary’s

30 August 2017

Last April, we spoke to Susan about what it’s like to come to Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice for the first time – from those initial doubts and concerns to creating wonderful memories with kind-hearted people.

Fast forward four months however, and we decided to catch up with Susan again to talk about her incredible progress. Not only has she been discharged from our Hospice, but she’s recently just got back from her sunny honeymoon in Majorca after getting married in July.  

Here, Susan and her new husband, John, share their story…

Congratulations both on getting married! How was your wedding and honeymoon?

Susan: It was perfect – a bit of a whirlwind – but absolutely perfect. We got married in a beautiful, stately home in Moseley and we both had such a lovely day.

John: The honeymoon was great too. It was a brilliant mixture of sightseeing and relaxing on the beach and it was nice to enjoy our first, long, proper beach holiday together.

You’ve recently been discharged from the Hospice – how are things for you so far?

Susan: We’re both feeling really good. I was discharged from the Hospice about two months ago and whilst the process was really simple, the hardest bit was actually getting used to not going to the Day Hospice every Wednesday. Those first few weeks in particular were really peculiar – it would get to 10 o’clock and I remember thinking ‘I should be at the Hospice now’!

Being discharged from Birmingham St Mary’s gave me mixed emotions. On one hand, I was sad to leave because I made such a great group of friends here who I shared a unique bond with. However, on the other hand, there was obviously that feeling of relief. If you’re going to be discharged from anywhere, a hospice is a good place to not need the services of – in the nicest possible sense!

John: With everything that’s been happening, we feel like we are moving forward. We’ve still got scans and results – those things are still there – but being able to concentrate on the wedding and other happy things has been a big help.

How has Birmingham St Mary’s helped you?

Susan: When I first saw Kate – which was over a year ago now – it was literally like she lifted a weight off my shoulders. When I arrived at our first-ever meeting, I was very tense but when I left, I remember ringing John and telling him how much better I felt.

I know I’ve said this before, but the Hospice really has helped me in many ways. They’ve given me peace of mind, especially when it came to medical support. There was one particular day, when I was having some pains, and the Hospice made sure I got to the hospital straight away. Doctors at hospitals – as great as they are – can sometimes be difficult to get a hold of, however, Jenny, the nurse here at the Hospice, was totally on it and helped me get a bed that same evening. Just knowing that you’ve got that extra help is a massive relief, and it really does help in taking the strain off of things. 

Aside from the medical support, there’s also the educational, relaxation and therapeutic elements, as well as the fun and social stuff, such as scrabble and meeting weird and wonderful animals. A particular favourite was when I got to hold a skunk – in fact, I’ve still got the picture of me holding him on our fridge, so I get to see him regularly!  

John: Whether it’s a skunk or scrabble, it’s just nice to see Susan come home with a smile. When Susan was coming to the Day Hospice, it was so good to see her feeling positive and happy. The Hospice was obviously a big help to her but it has a knock on effect too – seeing Susan upbeat again uplifted my feelings, so it meant that the Hospice was also helping me.   

Are you currently using any services at the Hospice?

Susan: Whilst I’m not using any services at the minute, it’s nice to know that the Hospice is always there, as and when we need them.

John:  Likewise, even though we’ve both been signed off, I can still see Maxine in the family and carer support team, whenever I need to. Whilst Susan is doing great at the moment, we are both conscious that in the future, that may change, so it’s fantastic that the support and care is available.

It’s also good to know where the support is too – when you’re feeling low or having a difficult time, the last thing you want is the extra stress of chasing people around or searching online for services. It might not be nice to think that I could need that support again, but it’s comforting to know that it’s always there.

Susan: Absolutely, it’s great to know that both John and I have that constant support, should we need it. We can call up or pop in anytime – it’s not just there for the worst moments.

So, what do you have lined up for the future?

Susan: I’m looking forward to getting back into work! I’d love to do something charitable, so fingers crossed I’m able to get a job in that sector.

Thank you so much to Susan and John for sharing their incredible story. If you would like to find out how Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice could help you or a loved one, take a look here.