At St Oswald’s Hospice our aim is to help the people we care for to enjoy quality of life. Within our Focus on Living Centre we provide short courses as an opportunity for people living with an incurable condition to come together, learn new skills or even revive old ones.
Veronica Lamb has attended several of our short courses, including arts and crafts. It was at this course that we discovered Veronica’s love (and talent) for writing poetry. Veronica is living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), and although she is now unable to speak, she has found a new voice through poetry. Her poetry gives a very honest account of what it is like to live with MND. In this blog post she tells us more about her inspirations for writing. Veronica said:
My diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease was confirmed in December 2018 after a very lengthy investigation. It wasn’t a shock to me because I had suspected it for a long time. In some ways it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis.
Almost immediately after diagnosis I was overwhelmed by a mixture of healthcare professionals coming to my house to explain what was about to happen at the different stages of my condition, including at the end. I was and still am a very private person and wasn’t used to all the attention. I now had several professionals who were trying to prepare me for the future including a speech and language therapist, physiotherapist, social worker and a consultant.
There was also several arrangements I was advised to put in place, including a Will and organising my own funeral. It took me a long time to come to terms with everything I had to arrange and I was so depressed that I returned to what had always been cathartic for me; I wrote poetry.
In the meantime my wonderful social worker suggested I attend St Oswald’s Hospice to take part in a craft group. I went for my assessment and felt very nervous and out of place, but I put my name down to do an embroidery workshop. I was still feeling nervous when I went for the first session, but I needn’t have worried. As soon as I met Fiona who runs the workshops, I felt right at home. Going to the Hospice has made a huge difference to my life.
Soon after I was asked if I was interested in the creative writing group at St Oswald’s and I had to confess that I did already write poetry. I took some of these with me to the next session and by chance met the Spiritual Care Lead, Davina. It was a serendipitous meeting of minds and spirits and we very quickly decided to put my poems into a booklet that the Hospice would help to put together. Two collections have now been printed - My Journey and Other Poems and My Journey Continues.
I started writing to save myself to begin with, it still helps me to write about all the changes that are happening in my life. I have also realised that my poems have helped other people too, and I now feel I have a duty to continue.
But I also want to raise awareness of MND as very few people actually know what it is. In the year since diagnosis there have been many changes and next week I will be going into hospital to have a PEG feeding tube inserted. This will give me all the nutrients I need plus my medication and will hopefully cut down on the terrifying choking episodes. I will continue charting my journey for as long as I’m able, I am already working on my Third Collection. I hope you enjoy reading them.