L-R: Allison and Hospiscare nurse Harriet
Allison Rand, 52, was diagnosed with heart failure a couple of years ago. Here she tells ehospice about Heart2Heart, a programme offered by Hospiscare in Devon that has helped her stay active and live well.
Heart failure….. The word failure is just such a negative word, when you get a diagnosis of heart failure it can be such a dark time. But you mustn’t be put off. With the right medication and advice you can still lead a good life with heart failure.
It was a total shock. I had been feeling unwell for a while but ignored it as I was too busy with life. Eventually I went for an ECG and they thought it didn’t look right so booked me in for an appointment. I lay down on the table and that was it. I just couldn’t get back up, I felt dreadful. I was only meant to be popping in for an appointment but ended up spending three weeks in hospital.
I just thought this is it, for the first three or four months I was convinced I was going to die. I think the unknown element of what is going to happen can drive you crazy. When the Heart Failure Nurse recommended I go along to Hospiscare to join their Heart2Heart five week course, it didn’t sink in that I was being referred.
I didn’t know anything about heart failure or the package that Hospiscare provides. But the Heart2Heart programme was really good. I got to meet other people in the same situation as me and have kept in contact with them on Facebook. Before I had felt a bit alone, so it really helped talking to others in the same boat and making those connections.
Every Heart2Heart session covers something different and I especially enjoyed the relaxation courses and the hand and back massage which you can have at the end of a session. It was brilliant for reassurance and I could talk to Harriet, my Hospiscare nurse about anything that was worrying me. I actually ended up doing the course twice as I found it so useful.
Heart failure isn’t curable, it’s a serious long term condition. But with the support from the Hospiscare Heart2Heart sessions I am not as worried as I was before. I still have low days when things are really difficult. It’s not like I bounce around or feel constantly happy or bubbly but I just feel reassured with the help I’ve had, and thankfully the medication and advice seems to be working.
I am the sort of person who wants to know everything about my illness. The more knowledge I have the better, so I grab it with both hands. Harriet, my Hospiscare nurse, is here for me whenever I need her and I can visit her at Searle House, or she will visit me at home.
Now I can go for months without even thinking about the heart failure at all. If I keep busy and am out and about doing my stuff I just don’t think about it. It’s only if I am in pain and haven’t been out that it plays on my mind.
My approach is not to make long term plans as I have trouble in planning ahead. No one knows what is round the corner so I have weekly targets which are more doable. I plan in treats, such as Easter when my kids were coming home.
This project was funded by a grant awarded from St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, managed by Hospice UK.
For more information visit Hospiscare Heart2Heart