Caring for People in Harrow & Brent

“Coming to the Hospice was the one piece of luck she had”

This year would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of David Taylor and his wife, Barbara. We caught up with David recently to hear about her care here at St Luke’s with him here by her side. Having spent her final weeks at the Hospice in the summer of 2019, we also heard about how finally being pain free meant she that she could enjoy her last weeks with her family.

In the spring of 2019 Barbara Taylor started getting some bad pains in her stomach. She went to see her doctor and he initially thought it was just a strain caused by some torn muscles. But when she went back a week later and the pain had moved, the GP said that she needed to have an urgent blood test. She was referred to hospital as a walk in patient but David told us how difficult it was to get her there because she was in absolute agony. “I almost had to carry her down the stairs just to get her to the hospital.”

The following week she had to return for some more tests and it was a week later that the consultant told Barbara it was a tumour. That was in May 2019. Very sadly and shockingly, Barbara passed away just four weeks after her diagnosis.

Barbara’s worst fear was that her life would end there at the hospital. David told us, “She was in such agony one Sunday and fortunately we had a nurse from St Luke’s who had been visiting us here and she had left an emergency telephone number. I rang St Luke’s in the night and told a very helpful lady that Barbara was in real, real agony. She arranged for a GP to visit Barbara early the next morning and he determined that she needed to go into hospital.” He called an ambulance that arrived at 8.30am but luckily, at the exact same time, the nurse from St Luke’s rang to say that there was a bed here for her and that she could be accommodated at the Hospice in a room overlooking the rose garden. The nurse spoke to the ambulance driver and they agreed that she would come to the Hospice instead of to the hospital.

David spoke to us about how well Barbara’s pain was managed, “The Hospice was fantastic. As soon as we arrived the nurse was waiting for her. They assessed her and told me to get some coffee and immediately put her on morphine. The pain began to ease straight away and she started looking brighter. From then on she was a lot brighter. As her pain increased, they would increase her dosage but I would say that the whole time she was there, she was pain free. In fact the doctor told her that the nurses had said that she didn’t call them often enough! They looked after her pain extremely well. She was well enough to enjoy one of your music therapy sessions and we enjoyed a game of Scrabble. On the Tuesday before she passed away, I was able to use a wheelchair and wheel her around the rose garden. She deteriorated on the Thursday evening.”

David very sadly lost Barbara on Sat 22 June. Like so many others, he has since continued to be a part of the St Luke’s community, supporting the Hospice and joining in with events. Asked why he thinks others should support the Hospice, he said, “St Luke’s do a fantastic job looking after people at the end of their life and they give people a choice. Barbara did not want to be in hospital at the end of her life. One stand out moment for me was when Mary, the nurse, had helped to make Barbara look wonderful for my visit. They had showered her, washed and did her hair and she looked really great. That place at the Hospice was the one piece of luck she had”.

With many thanks to David Taylor for sharing his experience with us.

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