Annie Simm has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and referred herself to St Barnabas Hospice after a recommendation from a friend. She currently takes part in mindfulness sessions and fatigue management in an attempt to get part of her life back.
Annie, age 49, said, “I came with an open mind, hoping to meet new people. I wanted to become more open to chatting with people and building my confidence.
“I took part in the mindfulness course, which was massive for me and has taught me to notice the small things. I am noticing my small victories – even how it feels to brush my hair. I have a friend who has MS and breast cancer, so I’m definitely going to be recommending this course to her.
“Before I referred myself to St Barnabas, my fatigue was horrible. I thought I was doing the right thing by resting but didn’t realise this was just making me deconditioned. The fatigue sessions taught me so much about rest and exercise and I’ve learned to accept more help from friends and family. I met a friend recently and she said, “You look different, I think it’s helping you.” I now spend so much more time sat downstairs taking part in family life.
“Obviously it was more difficult at first, but I know I have to move. I get up, shower and then take a rest, then I’m getting myself ready for the day. I allow myself three rests, sometimes four if I need them each day. This makes me feel so much better than pushing myself too hard and crashing and burning.
“One thing which I’ve learned to change is my cleaning habits. I used to clean the bathroom every single day because I had got too focused on it being the one thing I could do despite my disability. I hadn’t realised how much of my limited energy was being spent on this, and that it didn’t leave much energy to do things that were important to me.
“I’m so pleased with my progress since making contact with St Barnabas.”
“Moving forward, I now use a diary to plan my rests and activity each day. It also helps me celebrate my small victories, which are so important for my mood. I am moving more and enjoying walking a little further and can chat to anyone now my confidence has come back. I’m actually grateful for how well my body is working now.
“When I was first assessed for fatigue, I got a really high score. After spending time with St Barnabas, this has been reduced to the smallest possible fatigue score which I’m so proud of. I certainly couldn’t have done it without the help from the incredible staff at St Barnabas.
“If anyone else is in the position that I was, lacking the confidence to change a lifestyle and stuck in a rut, I couldn’t recommend St Barnabas more highly. The team really will do anything to help people living with both life-limiting and terminal illnesses. They’ve certainly given me the tools to turn my life around.”