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Karen's story Complementary Therapy

Complementary Therapy at Weldmar – Karen’s Story

23rd March 2023


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“Hospice. Palliative care. Cancer. They are all scary words, but Weldmar made them all ok to say,” says Karen, from Blandford, who has recently returned home following a stay at our Inpatient Unit.

Since being referred to Weldmar Hospicecare in January, Karen has accessed a number of the charity’s services, including a number of complementary therapies, which she says have made a huge difference to both her physical and mental wellbeing.

Karen’s cancer symptoms took a turn for the worse after Christmas, which led to a spell in hospital. She had severe back pain, and pain across her pelvis, which was managed by increasing doses of painkillers. With a gallbladder infection to contend with too (Karen smiles as she describes looking like an ‘Oompa Lumpa’ as her skin went yellow), her husband was warned that she may only have up to four days to live.

With a move to Weldmar’s Inpatient Unit in Dorchester arranged, Karen says things changed from the moment she arrived. “They changed the way my pain was dealt with, they asked me what and where it was, so I explained it was nerve pain and they gave me appropriate drugs. Dr Paul also gave me acupuncture, which I had never had before, but I was very open minded – at that point I would have done anything to take the pain away.”

“I had two needles in each leg, and in the temples and my forehead and the pain was just gone. There was another time during my stay when I tried to stand up and I got pain in my hip which made me panic, so he got me back into bed, did acupuncture to calm me down, and it worked again.”

Karen says Marie, a complementary therapy volunteer at Weldmar, also gave her Reiki (a Japanese form of energy healing) and foot and leg massages.

“For me, the complementary therapy made me less anxious, less stressed, and gave me an hour of peace – not having to think about or worry about anything. I had back pain, but by the time she had finished the massage, that pain was gone. It saved me having to take more painkillers, which is a good thing. Those giving the therapies are so kind, and so gentle, and will do whatever you need.”

Karen also had some reflexology when she came into the Inpatient Unit, which was given to help with constipation. “I was amazed that you could rub someone’s foot and affect what is going on in their body, but I was open to anything that would help me.”

“I was totally surprised to find out that Weldmar offered this, and that it was free. It was holistic – it’s not just about getting painkillers and medicine inside you, but they do all these other things to make you feel better. I think it’s brilliant.”

Returning home at the beginning of March, Karen is full of praise for the entire team at the Inpatient Unit.

“The quality of care is amazing, whether it’s from staff or volunteers. From the housekeeper to the lead consultant, they all have time for you. The food was amazing, with lots of choice and it was all properly cooked, good quality food. They took me to the Orangery restaurant to have lunch with my family, and said that if I wanted to go outside, they would wrap me in blankets and move the bed out onto the patio. I think it’s a brilliant place. When I was first told about going to the hospice, I thought it was doom and gloom and end of life. But, actually, it’s such a bright and cheerful place, and sometimes felt like a five star hotel! The positivity that you get from everyone helped me to be positive, to get stronger and be able to come home.”

With the specialist care provided by Weldmar, Karen’s four days turned into four weeks, and now those conversations are in terms of months.

The care from Weldmar, including the complementary therapies, did not stop when Karen returned home. She has a hospital bed downstairs, and a hoist, with an electric wheelchair on the way. These were organised by Weldmar’s specialist occupational therapists, who not only arranged for them to be installed, but worked closely with Karen, her husband, and her mum to ensure they could use the equipment comfortably, and provided Karen with all the advice she needed to enjoy as much independence as possible.

Sally, Weldmar’s new Complementary Therapy Lead, has visited Karen at home and given further foot massages, and also provided Sound Therapy with singing bowls, which are a type of metal bowl that vibrate when played to produce rich, deep tones. Due to the back pain, Sally put them on Karen’s chest, and the sound resonated through her body to soothe away the pain and help with relaxation. Karen says she’s not sure how it works, but it was very calming!

How would Karen sum up the effect of the complementary therapies she’s had in Weldmar’s care? “For me, it takes the pain and the anxiety and the stress away, and takes me to a much calmer place and helps to stop me worrying.”

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