66-year-old Richard Potts arrived at the city hospice 20 days ago, two stone underweight and hallucinating because he was not eating or taking his medication properly.
But he is leaving tomorrow (Friday) with a spring in his step and is looking forward to spending time with the daughter he didn’t know existed until four years ago when he received a “bolt out of the blue” letter from her asking to get together.
He is hoping to spend time with Michelle, 50, who lives in Kent and his granddaughter Ashley, who lives in London.
“I was struggling to get the care I needed until I came to the hospice. I have been given an extra lease of life and can now face up to my destiny having talked to the hospice chaplain and received all the love, care and attention from the beautiful Hospiscare staff. They have told me the truth which is what I wanted to know.
“I feel as though my life is complete. I have a family that loves me and to come to the hospice and be loved; I feel so much more comfortable.
“I thought I was going to die, I fully expected it. When you hear the word hospice the first thing you think of is death but it’s not like that here. Everybody who works here, from the doctors, to the housekeepers, catering and medical staff never cease to amaze me.They cannot do enough for you.
“It’s almost as if they are members of my family; I’m not just a number here. I have watched them looking after other patients and seen how gentle they are with people who have got all sort of aches and pains or bed sores and they are so gentle and so caring. It’s better than staying in a five star hotel.
A new lease of life
Richard was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September and it was his daughter Michelle who brought him into the hospice after finding him on the floor of his Alphington home.
Richard’s daughter Michelle said: “Hospiscare has given us more time than we ever could imagine we could have with him. When I brought him in on November 15th I did not expect him to last more than two days.The doctors and nurses have given him a new lease of life and his quality of life back, before he had no quality of life.
“Now he’s a lot happier, he’s living proof that it’s not always the end of the line when you go into a hospice. People are scared to go in, thinking patients will go downhill and they will not come out but that’s not always the case.”
Their relationship began in 2010 when Michelle discovered her father’s identity and wrote to him.
Richard and his late wife Sandra, who were married for 42 years, had tried for many years to have children and eventually gave up. “So when this letter arrived from Michelle it was even more mind blowing,” Richard added.
“I had always wanted a child. It was total utter disbelief. It took me a long, long time, many weeks to get my head around it.”
He emailed Michelle immediately and soon pieced together the whole story. Richard learned that when he was just 17 and in the Merchant Navy – unbeknown to him – a former girlfriend had a baby who was then adopted.
Richard will be going to live with his sister Cassie in Paignton. She has nothing but praise for the staff at the hospice:
“He was hallucinating when we brought him in and he was not our Richard. We thought he was in on the final slippery slope and we cannot believe what Hospiscare staff have done for him. He’s nearly back up to his normal weight and they have fine tuned his medication so we’ve got our Richard back.”