"I knew I had to be prepared for this"
Tim Bagnall had lived with a type of bone marrow cancer, since 2008, and in February 2015 he came to the hospice’s Inpatient Unit. After a few weeks, his wife Yvette stayed there too so they could be together and was with him when he died just a day after his 48th birthday. Yvette tells their story…
The most striking memory I have of the hospice was Valentine’s Day. I had gone home to feed the cat and it all felt frantic travelling between the Inpatient Unit and home. Tim at this time couldn’t walk, he was in a wheelchair. While I’d been gone, he had been taken to Tesco and helped to get me flowers and a Valentine’s card.
He was really ill at this time. Upon my return hospice staff had set up a table and we had wine, flowers in a vase - it was amazing. He was dead two weeks later.
Tim was quite a reserved character; he had a very dry sense of humour and was a really kind person. He was very healthy and active. He always wanted to walk around, do physical things. I think that’s what’s really cruel; cancer is such a horrible thing.
I suppose I had been waiting for ages knowing I had to be prepared for this, but then when it actually happened it was like, what do I do now?
I was just staring at him. I could feel he wasn’t breathing so I knew he had died.
So I rang the bell to call the nurse and she said ‘I’ll leave you on your own with him for a while and when you want me to come in let me know’. The nurses sorted out the various people who had been arriving to see him and I thought how that was handled was amazing because I didn’t feel that I had to be rushed. I was allowed to spend time with him. I was vaguely aware that things were happening but I was in shock, I didn’t know what my name was, I was distressed.
Afterwards you get an information pack about what you need to do next; you don’t know what to do, you don’t know who you’re supposed to contact.
I felt they really supported me and I was offered counselling if I wanted. I just wanted to not talk about it for a while.
I hope that when I die, depending on the circumstances, that I’ll be somewhere like this and so well looked after. Sitting out in the garden is beautiful. Tim used to really enjoy being wheeled out there just to get some fresh air on his face, to look at the water. It’s lovely; the cat and everything makes it like a home.
I know that Tim felt more confident being in the hospice.
I think he felt nervous about being at home with just me, so it was a relief coming here where you could feel safe and secure and know these people know what they are talking about.
They try to make sure your standard and quality of life is maintained. Dignity, they preserve your dignity.
A doctor came around every single day to ask how he was feeling. I was consulted as well. The other friends and family that visited were also respected and were made to feel like their opinion really mattered; you can often feel as though you are a spare limb when someone you are with is ill, but I felt very welcome.
I contacted the hospice to ask if I could visit the Inpatient Unit on his anniversary and when I arrived they asked me if I wanted a drink and they had reserved the quiet room for me as if I was the only person who comes here. I was left alone to have time with my thoughts. It helps with your closure I think if you can mark the anniversary.
They make you feel like it’s just you and I think that’s incredible. I can’t think of anything worse that has happened to me in my whole life. It was done in the best possible way, if you can have an OK situation out of a terrible situation. I’m so glad we were here.
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