Before 2020, Annie had only been to the doctors twice in her life.
Then, in her words, a bombshell hit, and she would go on to wish her life would end. But thanks to care teams including the Clinical Nurse Specialists at Trinity Hospice, Annie is now fighting fit, and determined to live.
This is her story.
I’ve always been healthy. At 84 years old, that’s quite an achievement.
But then one day, towards the end of last year, my face under my eyes swelled up. Then the glands behind my ears went up, and then my feet. Then my legs.
The doctor diagnosed sinusitis and told me to put vapour rub in a bowl of steaming water and take paracetamol every four hours.
I did this for a month.
It wasn’t until a friend visited and saw me trying to pull myself around the kitchen on my elbows, that I realised I needed more help. I hadn’t wanted to go to hospital, but I was persuaded.
I was there for 10 days.
I had scans and biopsies which showed my kidneys weren’t functioning. A combination of results led them to give me a palliative diagnosis – I had an aggressive lymphoma and because of my deteriorating health, there was no treatment my body could withstand.
I just wanted to die. Why wouldn’t the nurses just give me an injection to stop my suffering?
I was terrified.
They fast-tracked me home because of my palliative diagnosis, and that’s when I got to know Barbara from Trinity Hospice. She really put me at ease and explained to me why there was no injection to stop all my suffering. She spoke to me in a way that I could really understand. She was my rock.
Together with my carers, she kept coming and they got me up and out of bed. Finally I got a Zimmer frame and I was able to take a few steps. A few days later I could walk around the table holding the carer’s hand. I had Rick, the physio from the hospice, coming to see me to help get me moving. He gave me exercises that I still do today.
Barbara kept on coming to see me to make sure I was OK, and she even came with me to the hospital to have some blood tests done. She was so reassuring to me; I felt like I had someone on my side. She rebuilt my confidence, and really helped me to build a positive attitude.
I went from being bed-bound to being able to walk unaided. I’ve since been swimming and even driven in the car.
All the lumps I had are now gone, and the doctors seem happy with my blood and scan results. My kidneys are functioning well. I am absolutely hunky-dory. I go for a long walk every day and I’m eating like a horse. There is life in me yet!
It’s a miracle.
I’ve been discharged from Trinity’s care.
I remember when I was in hospital there were points when I’d wake up and be surprised to still be alive. I must have been so near to dying. Even when I came home me and my family went through all my belongings and made something of a Will. I honestly thought it would be days.
What I had is still unclear. The doctors are as baffled as I am. All I know is that I was dying, but then I came back. I consider myself very, very lucky.
I’d have given anything in that hospital just to be put to sleep. Now I am determined to live.