Mirriam came to St Christopher’s bedbound and is now walking again

Mirriam, 77, lives in Croydon and was referred to St Christopher’s Hospice for rehabilitation just over a year ago. When she came to the hospice from Croydon University Hospital, she was unable to mobilise and had great difficulty swallowing food and fluids.  Since then she has made huge improvements and can now walk and administer her own medication and feed via a PEG. She is hoping to be discharged and return home in the near future.

“I had cancer seven years ago so had to have radiotherapy. I also have Sjorgens Syndrome, which means you get a dry mouth, dry eyes, dry everything really. Having those two conditions together has made my life a mess really. Last March I became very ill and was taken into Croydon University Hospital. I have always been disabled, but at that point I could still walk a little bit. I was in there for weeks and during those weeks they fitted me with this PEG, which feeds food directly into my stomach. They said it was dangerous for me to eat because I had pneumonia and was really very poorly. When it came to physio, what they offered me wasn’t what I would call proper physio and they told me that if I didn’t sit in this chair for so many hours a day I would become bedbound. This news made me very upset, but I happened to get friendly with a woman at the hospital who used to work at St Christopher’s and she asked if I would be interested in doing rehabilitation at the hospice. By that time I couldn’t walk and in my mind the thought of going home unable to walk was dreadful. Anyway I said yes to St Christopher’s and here I am.

“I’ve been at the hospice for weeks now and one of the physios here called Kate has got me walking along with the help of the other staff. I can’t thank them enough. I’m not going to walk the marathon, but at least I’m walking. I spend a lot of time in the gym downstairs doing physio exercises. I had never been in a gym in my life before, but I really like it. I’m hopefully going to be discharged soon and it’s so nice to do things that help you along the way. I’m nervous about going home because it will be a different life for me, but I’ve got to try to do my best.  I’ve recently been moved to a private room, which has helped me practise what it will be like when I move home. I do things for myself now like making my bed, washing myself and administering my own mediation. I’m just doing my best and the staff have told me I’ve been very good, but you don’t feel that yourself.

“The hospice is just a wonderful place for rehabilitation. They do everything they can for you.  I will tell everyone I know how wonderful the staff are. My dad died in here so I already knew that St Christopher’s was a lovely place, but I never knew that they did rehabilitation and I don’t think a lot of people do. There was a huge difference between my care in hospital and here at the hospice. I can’t explain it but the nurses are so different here – they are very gentle. I’m so pleased to be walking again. If it wasn’t for this place I couldn’t have done it and I would be bedbound right now. As I said, the staff have been wonderful.”

Kate Gerken – Physiotherapist

“Mirriam was bedbound when she came in. Her goal was to be able to walk so we started with sitting on the edge of the bed and standing before eventually progressing to walking in the parallel bars in the gym. When she could do that, she started walking with a frame and, eventually, as she became stronger and more confident she was able to walk independently with her frame. Miriam can now walk a length or two of the corridor, and she can go up and down a flight of stairs. She also goes to the gym here regularly.

“We also worked with the Occupational Therapist and other members of the allied health team to identify those tasks that she may have to do at home such as managing her feed, her medications, etc., and looking at ordering equipment that she may need to help her at home. Managing her feed regime and moving into the side room to practice her activities of daily living has all been part of the rehabilitation which has helped her to achieve her goals and facilitate her abilities.

“As a patient Mirriam has been amazing. She’s pretty inspirational because she’s definitely really motivated and always keen to try to improve herself as much as she can physically, which shows how determined she is. She always says it’s down to us, but she’s the one who has actually put in the hard work every day. She has become a lot more confident in herself and it has been wonderful seeing this change in her. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Mirriam.”

Sue Ward – Health Care Assistant

“Mirriam is very special and we tell her every day how amazing she is. She plays it down really. She will always ask us about ourselves and if we say we’re going to a barbeque or something like that, she will always ask how it was afterwards. She’s our star.”

Jade Branch – Acting Deputy Ward Manager 

“When Mirriam came to us she was bedbound and unable to do anything for herself.  She’s a very determined lady and she wanted to go home so that was her goal. Working with Kate Gerken, the physio, we got her mobilised and she can now walk and administers all of her own medication and feed via a PEG. Even for the nurses her routine is quite complex so for her to pick it up is amazing. It’s less to do with her medication and more to do with her strength and determination. Some patients don’t have that motivation, whereas Mirriam has kept going through every struggle.”