Posted on: December 4th, 2019
Bernard and I met in 1956, he had finished his national service in the RAF and he was a student at Oxford University. We married in 1960 and soon after had two wonderful sons. Although we were from Nottingham Bernard was offered a job at Hull University in 1963 and we settled here, raising our family and both working.
In the late eighties I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour. The outcome was successful but the recovery period was long and quite frightening. However, with Bernard’s love, support and encouragement I made it back to an almost normal life.
Life carried on. Bernard enjoyed academic life and he was very active in his field of scientific research until he retired in 1999.
In early 2015 Bernard had a tickly cough, he thought nothing of it but after I nagged him several times he went to the GP ‘for peace and quiet!’. After multiple tests, we were given the bad news. He was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an incurable lung disease – no known cause and no cure.
Bernard was a scientist. It frustrated him that he couldn’t explain why this was happening to him and that there was nothing that could be done to stop it.
He joined the Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group at Castle Hill Hospital where he met Anne, a Physiotherapist from Dove House. They talked a lot and he really trusted her. When I started to struggle with the situation, it was Anne who referred me to the hospice’s Family Support Team. I was contacted by a Social Worker, Rebecca, who has been my constant support to this very day. Our relationship with Dove House had begun.
We had always supported the hospice, donating anything we thought could be of use to the shops. We knew they did good things but we never thought we would need them.
Bernard was receiving both medical and social support, he had people he could talk to. The hospice became an anchor when we were feeling desperate.
I was frustrated that I couldn’t help him as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make him comfortable. I was so tired but I wanted to repay him for all the care he had given me so many years ago. Bernard was admitted to Dove House Hospice for respite care.
In September 2017 his symptoms started worsening and Bernard ended up in hospital. He made me promise that if anything happened I would make sure he was admitted to Dove House.
He was transferred to the hospice and once in his room, Bernard seemed calm. He squeezed my arm and we kissed. It was to be our final personal moment together.
That evening the whole family was together. I was able to stay in his room and our sons were given accommodation at the hospice. Over the next 24 hours we had lots of visitors – it was the sort of man Bernard was, he had so many friends.
Dove House Hospice took control. I could be Bernard’s wife, not his carer.
It was 29th September 2017, I woke up next to him at 5:30am. At 7:30am Bernard died. A lot of people can’t face dealing with death and the prospect of dying however Bernard’s attitude had influenced me and I wasn’t afraid, but without Dove House it would have been horrendous. I wouldn’t have known who to turn to and would have been completely on my own.
I’m so thankful for everything that Dove House Hospice did for me, Bernard and our family. The hospice continues to think of everyone and I will always think of them. As my son Mark said, “The hospice and all the staff were simply marvellous. It was a very humbling experience and we are very grateful to them”.
We’d like to thank Monica for sharing hers and Bernard’s story to support the Dove House Hospice Christmas Appeal. To support Dove House Hospice this Christmas please complete the form below.