2 January 2024

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William’s story

William has found that his physio and exercise sessions have brought a lease of life to what matters most to him

Having grown up on a Northern Irish farm, William Patterson was no stranger to mischief and physical activity as a youngster. As we sit together after his physiotherapy session, a cheerful smile emerges as he recounts avoiding piano lessons.

“I would to walk to the house, and I would lift the knocker and drop it as quietly as possible. I would run home and say that nobody had answered!”

His wife, Elizabeth, eagerly chips in with her favourite story about her husband: “He’s got an older brother, and a younger brother, and his parents had just decorated the living room. So, they decided to write across the ceiling – with red paint – ‘Happy Christmas’, and they were so excited about it. I think their mother was about to explode!”

The couple moved to England in 1961, when they were just 24 years old. Elizabeth was training as a housing manager, while William had recently qualified as a pharmacist. It was only when William’s boss asked him to manage his entire second branch that they decided to stay this side of the water permanently.

William preparing for his standing exercises

Before coming to St Christopher’s, William’s experience with the hospice was limited at best: the few people he knew who had come here had only done so for their final days. It was only when he started visiting St Christopher’s in Orpington after heart failure last year that he began to experience how much is done here.

“That’s where we’ve been fortunate,” he explains. “We’ve been fit and well. It’s very hard, because your emphasis at one stage of life is in one direction and then it changes slightly because something happens.”

An initial three-week course for breathlessness was recommended following William’s heart failure, and once this was completed he took the opportunity to start a six-week course of exercises to build up the muscles in his body. He has covered a wide range of movements in each session, including resistance exercises with weights, balance exercises, and cardio training, all of which his therapist, Paula, says he has made great progress with.

When asked what he wanted to achieve at the start of his program, William told the team that he wanted to be fitter for his gardening.

William with his physiotherapist

“I can’t get on my knees for gardening, so standing and doing it I’d have to stop every half-hour. But since doing this, I’ve been able to go for much longer than I have been able to do before.”

It was truly heart-warming to hear how William had improved, and what it meant to him to have energy to do what he loves.

“I would encourage anyone who is given the same opportunity to say yes. Right from the first time I visited St Christopher’s everyone has been very friendly and helpful and welcoming, which made me feel as though I was at home. I am very grateful for all the help and encouragement I have received from the physios, who are excellent.”

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