“Jesus - what am I doing here - I’ll not be back after today. That’s the thoughts that were going through my head whilst waiting for lunch to be served on my first two hours of day care in Foyle Hospice”
These are the words of Paul Loughrey (48) - a day hospice patient at the Foyle Hospice.
Married to Mary for the past 25 years, Paul has three children Claire 24, Dean 17 and Eoghan 15.
Paul says he’ll never forget July 27 two years ago, a day when family life changed and would never be the same again.
“I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease ALS, its terminal life expectancy is two to five years,” he said.
“It’s like a coin was tossed in the air and unfortunately for us it landed on the wrong side.
“They told me everyone who gets MND is different. It’s a progressive disease, we don’t know quickly it will progress.”
Paul looks back: “It’s early December 2013, the MND nurse had come to visit us at home. ‘Would you like me to find out if they have a day care unit and if so would you like me to put your name forward?
“Foyle Hospice to us meant one thing - where people went and spent their last days - how ignorant was that of me? I thought you came down that avenue one way and came back up it another. Was that ignorance or fear?
“I decided to give it a go.
“I remember trying to park the car outside on my first day and my legs were shaking, probably the nerves. Calm down said Mary or you’re going to fall.
“Hello” I’m Donna, welcome to day care. Whilst sitting having tea watching the rest of the people arriving and being introduced to them, the tension in my body was awful. Looking around the group that day I thought I had nothing in common, how wrong was I? It took a couple of weeks for me to settle in. But with the help of the staff and Mary I did.
“For me now Tuesday can’t come quick enough, it’s like that little bit of heaven. I am spoiled here. The banter is always good. I always say if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
“I do everything that’s on offer here. It takes a while to settle down. The only advice I could give to people coming here is to just settle. Yes in the Hospice there is sadness and there are tears but there is friendship, there is fun, there is laughter.I would like to thank my children for their patience, the people in our Tuesday group, the staff and the volunteers who make day care such a nice place to be, but a massive thank you must go to Julia, the boss, Teresa and Donna for their care and understanding and of course Mary, my wife, without them Day Care might have only lasted one day for me.”