A 78-year old emphysema sufferer has praised Weston Hospicecare’s services by stating the care given has “100% extended my life”.
Originally from Bristol, Terry Vanburg moved to Weston when he secured a job as a drug therapist after a substance and alcohol abuse battle of his own during his teens and early twenties.
When he was 23 years old he was given just two years to live due to the damage he had caused himself during his youth. However, after giving up drugs and alcohol he managed to turn his life around and now regularly visits day hospice for treatment for his life-limiting condition.
Terry said: “This place has 100% extended my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the day hospice.
“I was sent here from Southmead from an emergency clinic after having a CT scan and subsequently being told I couldn’t be treated to cure my condition. They recommended attending the hospice as a way of ensuring I could get specialised treatment to relieve symptoms for the remainder of my life.
“Coming to the hospice filled me with dread initially, but after the first time more than three and half years ago I felt at ease straightaway.
“I didn’t want to think about dying and the group has a knack of bringing you out of your shell and after a couple of weeks it was as though I had been here forever.”
Terry attends the hospice’s day services each week and regularly attends fatigue and breathlessness (FAB) sessions with hospice therapist Norma Corp.
He continued: “I have mainly used the day hospice but recently I have also used the FAB group which has really helped me be honest and open with my thoughts and feelings.
“When I was asked to join the FAB group, I wasn’t sure what I would get from it because I thought I knew a lot about my illness. But I was greatly mistaken because I have learnt an awful lot about my illness by going to FAB group.
“One of many things I have learnt at the group is how to deal with panic attacks associated with emphysema. It is almost like asthma attacks you never know when they are going to happen. I have learnt a trick which helps me keep calm when I get an attack which has actually saved me trips to the hospital.
“Being in this atmosphere is what has inspired me to keep going and it also gives me hope.”
Terry then said one of his biggest comforts in the relationship his current wife and his daughter from another marriage have together.
He explained: “Although my family love me dearly, they find talking about end-of-life quite difficult. Whereas when I come here I can talk to anyone about anything and it doesn’t appear to affect anybody which is a great comfort.
“My second wife really gets along with my daughter from my first wife who passed away many years ago. They get their hair done together, they text each other nearly everyday and they’ve built up a small support network between themselves so when I do die they will have one another.”
Amazingly it was at this point Terry revealed he survived a second heart attack of his life just eight weeks prior to speaking to the hospice.
He continued: “I actually had a heart attack a few weeks ago, my wife gave me a coffee at about 8am and from the way I felt during my first one, I knew I was having one again.
“I said to my wife ‘I think you should call an ambulance’ and I was taken straight into Weston General Hospital and I had some surgery on my heart and now I am back here as I was before.
“I am just so blessed, I don’t know why I am but for some reason I am. The hospice is the best thing that ever happened to me. The last few years my life has been so much more relaxed and relatively pain and worry-free.
“I have had the time and support to put my affairs in order which has taken a huge pressure away. I would come every day of the week if I could and I have made some really great friends.
“I know when I am in my last few days I will get all the love and care here that I need, so that takes a lot of fear away.”