Paul was diagnosed with a large, aggressive brain tumour in December 2015. Despite the increasing complexity of his condition, he was able to remain at home, with his wife Beverley, daughter Kat and son Andy for another two years.
Beverley explains the role the Rennie Grove nurses played in making that happen…
“Paul had surgery just 48 hours after being diagnosed – on Christmas Eve. I remember visiting him in hospital with Kat and Andy on Christmas Day, although he wasn’t really aware we were there. Christmas dinner that year was petrol station sandwiches eaten in a car park.
“Paul came home in time for his birthday on 30th December – he was 60 that year. It was not the celebration any of us had planned – but he was alive and he was back home.
“He was determined not to go into hospital or a hospice. But there’s no way he could have stayed at home without the help of the Rennie Grove nurses. They arranged for physios, a speech therapist, and special equipment and kept in touch with the doctor for us. They took all sorts of stressful things out of our hands so we had time just to be together.
The nurses made frequent, scheduled visits throughout November and into December. They also arranged for ‘just in case’ medication, so when we needed to call them out in the middle of the night, they could come and increase the dose almost immediately. It meant Paul remained as comfortable as possible and didn’t have to be admitted to hospital, which he would have hated.
“After our car park Christmas dinner following the shock of the diagnosis and the emergency surgery in 2015 – we had a more traditional family Christmas in 2016, sitting round a big table in mum and dad’s lounge. Although it was lovely to be together at home, that Christmas was still tinged with sadness; when Paul and I took the tree down to pack it away, we were both in tears thinking how that Christmas could have been our last together.
“But we’d both under-estimated Paul’s strength and determination. He so wanted to spend another Christmas together and in 2017 we took turns to sit with him. He couldn’t have coped with a room full of people but with the care and support of the Rennie Grove nurses at least we could be together for one last Christmas. The nurses were with us during the day on 22 and 23 December, making sure Paul was comfortable and that we were all OK. They were in touch by phone over Christmas too, but gave us the space to be together as a family; safe in the knowledge they’d be there should we need them.
“Paul always loved Christmas. His favourite thing was to decorate the Christmas tree. No-one else got a look in! Apart from Kat, who was allowed to pass him the baubles and other decorations. I’ll always remember Paul, despite being so poorly, still wanting to get involved with this - his favourite part of Christmas. So he and Kat kept up the tradition of decorating the tree together... just this time the roles were reversed. But it meant an awful lot to both of them I think, to do that together one more time.
“On New Year’s Day the nurses came in and set up a syringe driver for Paul so that his pain-relief medication could be administered continuously. It meant he could stay at home, as he’d wanted, with all of us nearby.”
Paul passed away at home, surrounded by three generations of his family and his beloved 18-year-old cat, Billy, on 4 January 2018 – just five days after his 62nd birthday.