“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.”
Allison Rand, 52 from Exeter, was diagnosed with heart failure a couple of years ago.
“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 Harriet 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 and the next one coming up is Easter when my kids will be home, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
For more information about the Hospiscare Heart2Heart programme held at Searle House, Dryden Road, Exeter, call 01392 688008.