8 February 2023

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Peter and Carol’s Story

Reflexology helps patient Peter and his wife relax

Within 24 hours of being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in April 2021, retired motor mechanic Peter Walsh had secured a referral to St Christopher’s and almost two years later both he and his wife Carol have benefitted from a range of services, most notably massage, a first for them both.

Having witnessed the care and support the hospice had given to both his father and a close friend, Peter, 61, who lives in Forest Hill, made sure to ask his GP to make the referral.

He said: “In 1991 my dad had cancer and the nurse came and looked after him at home and they were very good indeed.

“I also had a friend who was a patient in the hospice and I really learned about the ethos that they have.  He was bedridden and one summer’s evening my son and I went to visit him. My friend asked the nurse if he could go out into the garden. She said she couldn’t leave the ward but allowed my son and I to wheel him into the lift and out into the garden. It made him so happy and that was just typical of how they always try and accommodate everyone’s wishes, which just wouldn’t be able to happen in a hospital.”

After Peter’s referral, he and his wife Carol, joined the neurological group at St Christopher’s. This gave them the chance to meet other families affected by MND and conditions like Parkinson’s. It was also where they both had their first encounter with the St Christopher’s complementary team.

Peter and Carol Walsh

Peter wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when he was offered a massage for the first time.

“I’d never had a massage in my life – in fact no one ever touches me apart from my wife, so I really didn’t know what I was going to make of it.

“I think Marcus the reflexologist could see the apprehension in my face and said he really wouldn’t mind if I said I didn’t like it. Anyway, we agreed he could start with my feet as it seemed safe and I actually thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Peter was brave enough to try a neck and shoulder massage the next week but didn’t like it as much as the feet. Months later, and Peter and Carol have just finished a course of reflexology sessions and both of them say they really feel the benefit.

“It’s so relaxing and good for my mental state”

“It’s so relaxing and good for my mental state,” says Peter. “Marcus is very jolly and easy to talk to and we have a few laughs. I find when I walk into the hospice it’s just not like a hospital at all, there’s an element of happiness and everyone is welcoming and pleased to see you.”

Carol, who has her foot massages straight after Peter’s, says it’s a special time for her.

“It’s like a small part of the week when I don’t have to think about anything else for a whole hour.”

“It’s like a small part of the week when I don’t have to think about anything else for a whole hour. Someone is concentrating on me and it just makes me feel peaceful and calm so I switch right off from all the hospital appointments and whirl of life that’s going on outside. Marcus really makes you feel like you’re in his care.”

Reflexology massage is one of the many complementary therapies available to patients and their carers at St Christopher’s.

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