Donal and Helen Bell’s story

Donal: I’m Donal Bell. I’m 77 years of age, coming on 78. I hope to make it. If I do, that’s fine. It’s in the hands of the good man above.

Helen: Donal was quite ill. He got a very bad chest infection, pneumonia, I suppose. He was very, very ill and he had to go into the regional hospital. He was there for just over two weeks and then they knew that he had been going to the hospice for the day care, and they were saying that it would be an idea if he went to in-care in the hospice for a while, if they had a bed, you know, it would be a stepping stone to coming home.

Donal: For me, the first day in there, I wanted a shower because I didn’t want my grandchildren giving me a shower, so along came, inside in the hospice, this marvellous nurse, Zoe. And Zoe takes me there and I’m all afraid and bothered. She takes the whole thing on board as if she did it every day of her life. That there’s an organisation there; that there’s something there to help you, and to help the family, and to help the whole lot, and to help share your load, they go in, they take the wife or the husband, or whoever the nearest relative is aside, and say what can we do for you, where do you need help?

Helen: One of the nurses said to me that she wanted to talk to me and I was wondering like, what it was and we went into another room, and she wanted to see what she could do for me and, you know, I was stunned. I just said to her, I’m fine, thanks, you know, it’s Donal’s the patient. I’m ok.

When Donal would go to sleep at night I’d stay awake for a long, long time, listening to his breathing, not wanting to get to sleep myself, in case maybe in the morning he wouldn’t be there, you know. That was I suppose a type of anxiety, you know. Well, they had an answer for that, so I was prescribed an anti-anxiety tablet and a mild sleeping tablet and lo and behold I was quite a different person you know.

Donal: For my own comforts I had a multitude of stuff, from occupational therapy, aromatherapy, physiotherapy, a simple job of cutting your toe nails.

Helen: I mean we still have the hospice coming all the time, you know. They’re just not giving up on us.