Having been a patient of the Haematology Department for the last ten years, I have nothing but praise for the dedicated staff of the department that have treated me and my late wife with the utmost dignity.
Being an independent person I was always able to cope with everything life threw at me. After losing my wife last year, having nursed her for the previous four years, life became a bit more difficult.
Apart from the process of grieving I seemed to be prone to all sorts of physical complications, which rendered me more dependant on others.
At my last spell in The RD&E, I was diagnosed with COPD following severe breathing difficulties.
Two days after my discharge I was due at Yarty Day Centre for a dose of maintenance treatment. On my arrival Clare, the Clinical Specialist Nurse commented on my haggard appearance, and asked me if I was coping, and did I need any support and telling me of the ELF befriending scheme for East Devon. I was not aware of its existence, but became interested.
Debbie in the office put me in touch with Sue, the lady in charge of the team, and I was surprised to receive a call the following day to arrange a meeting at my home at a mutual convenient time.
Sue visited me the following day, and we talked which enabled her to choose a suitable befriender for me. Within a week Sue introduced me to Greg, who was to be my befriender. Her choice could not have been any better, as Greg and I had a common interest, motor cycles. It had been years since I had been riding a bike myself, but my interest had never faded. So we had a lot to talk about.
However, due to my inability to walk by myself, having lost the confidence, I was so grateful to Greg for walking with me a bit down our lane. I was getting my confidence back.
I had a visit from Greg every week, and he offered to take me for an outing. However I did not feel like it at that time. Imagine my dismay, when I had a call from Sue one day telling me that Greg would not be able to see me for the time being, as he was undergoing treatment himself. Greg also phoned me and I thanked him for his support and wished him well.
Soon afterwards Sue informed me that she had found a new befriender for me and that she would introduce her to me. Imagine my surprise when Sue introduced me to Chris to discover that like me Chris was a poet and a writer. We hit it off from the beginning, and her visits brighten my days, as we have so much in common.
She even took me to Sidmouth for a long walk along the seafront, and to introduce me to her husband and to her lovely little grandsons.
I did say at the beginning how grateful I was to the staff of all grades of the department. All I can say now is that the befriending service of ELF, is a wonderful and most welcome addition to a great service. It helps us, who are receiving treatment, and who are feeling particularly vulnerable, plagued by anxieties and possible loneliness, to a more normal acceptable life.
I would like to say thank you to Sue, Greg, Chris, and all other befrienders who are giving up their time to help me and many others who require their help.