“Dear Ward 7” by Jackie Shrimpton

Dear Ward 7,

I would like to take the opportunity, afforded to me by this blog, to thank all of you on ward 7 for the care I received during my 14 day stay in June of this year. I have worked for 40 years in the NHS and all of them spent in DGRI so the thought of being an inpatient was not a terribly nice one. However there was something so special about the way I was cared for, the personal touches, the kindness, that I felt I had to put my gratitude into writing.

I became ill some years ago although at this time I did not know the severity of my illness. I had a painful right shoulder which nothing seemed to help. This got progressively worse and then about a year ago I had a brief stay in hospital with a DVT. Subsequent investigations revealed that I had breast cancer and that it had spread to my lungs and shoulder. I was devastated. Treatment commenced with radiotherapy and medications but I knew this was all ‘Palliative’. Earlier this year I became increasingly dizzy and sick and eventually had a brain scan which revealed the cancer had spread to my brain. It was now that I was admitted to ward 7.

From the moment I was admitted to ward 7 I realised I was somewhere special. The nursing staff seemed to go out of their way to make me feel comfortable, even when they were clearly busy. I have heard it said before but it can’t be said enough: at times like this it is the small things that really matter. Combing my hair to make me look nice for my family, knowing the right thing to say to cheer me up when I was down, a simple wee word here and there made all the difference. To feel that someone genuinely wants to help, to see joy in their faces when they know they have helped, means so much. One nurse said that helping me to the shower and making me feel better in myself helped her because she was not coming to me to inject something or do something to me.

I am particularly indebted to Dr Finlay. She was obviously busy and had many patients to care for but never made me feel this way. I was made to feel important and all decisions that had to be made were made with me, not for me. She went above and beyond and I viewed her as a person rather than a doctor. I didn’t feel silly when I struggled to understand, especially when my head was in a fug due to steroids. This was such a huge thing to me at the time. Thank you Dr Finlay.

It is sometimes easy to forget how being an inpatient with an illness like mine can affect your family. My two children and other family were clearly concerned but all said that seeing me in ward 7, speaking to the nurses looking after me, filled them with confidence and made the situation easier for them. My daughter said that she was overwhelmed with gratitude as she wasn’t spending time at work worrying that I wasn’t being cared for. This meant a lot to them and a lot to me.

To all the nurses, auxiliaries, therapists, domestics, doctors, porters, pharmacists, everyone on ward 7……Thank You. I am very proud to know you and have worked in the same hospital as you.

Yours,

Jackie

J Shrimpton

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