How can furniture speed up patient recovery?

Furniture thats been designed to be as easy as possible to use can have a real impact on the recovery time of patients. Here, Chris describes how his surroundings during his treatment helped him stay strong and positive

Chris Doughty

My dentist suggested I have a blood test because of a blood clot I had in my mouth. Our third child was overdue. How do I tell my wife now I am concerned I might have leukaemia? I couldn’t. Finally, two weeks late, our third child arrives. I faint at the birth – very unlike me – and in the back of my mind, I flick from joy to worry.

My first day of paternity, we are out walking. My mind is clear, and I am enjoying the time with my family. A call comes into my phone to check my date of birth and any allergies I have – no other information is given. Later that night the baby is due a feed and the home line rings. I am called into the emergency unit immediately. On the way to the hospital, I broke the news to my wife about my concern about leukaemia.

October 2014 and mine and my wife’s fears are confirmed: I do have leukaemia. As 2015 starts, I enter my first round of chemotherapy: an intensive 10-day session with a 3-4 week stay in hospital. I am strong and have a wife and three children. I know through positivity and faith I could beat this.

I am at King’s College Hospital in London. The consultant is well known, and the care is excellent in my mind. I am sure the outcome will be positive despite their percentage predictions. All is looking positive.

As I become immune-suppressed, I am moved down to another specialist ward. When I entered the new room, my heart sank. My wife became upset. It was smaller and it looked so dated.

The following day I got sepsis and ended up in intensive care.

I get home for a break before the next round of chemotherapy. Then comes some good news ... they have killed all my cells. I don’t need another round of chemo.

I return to King’s in March for my transplant. More good news, a donor for my stem cell transplant had been found in Germany. I felt positive I would pull through. The transplant is successful and the cells start to wake up. My bloods start to come up again ... then I get the bad news. The CMV virus from the donor becomes active.

The medication is horrendous and following six weeks of treatment, all my cells have been killed. I will need to start this whole process again. For the first time in my own mind, I wonder if I will beat this. I can barely walk now, I have lost so much weight. All I see is skin and bone. A wheelchair is my only means of getting anywhere.

There are some cells left from the first batch and it is enough for me to have another transplant. The whole process starts again; another ten days of chemo and then the transplant. Two weeks after the second transplant, the same virus wakes up again and I have to start the same treatment as before that killed my last transplant. I get sepsis again, although it is caught much quicker this time. This is my lowest point. My family came to visit but I can only see them through a glass window.

The environment in a hospital can impact your recovery time greatly. The first area I was treated in was modern fresh and a positive place to be. This new room is the opposite and I fear everything is going wrong. My family, my friends and I pray for a successful outcome and finally I get more good news: the virus has gone and the cells are working. It has been the longest eight months in a small box room that I’ve ever experienced.

1 August 2015: I finally get out of the hospital on my birthday. I did it! I have beaten this! A birthday cake is presented to me and I cannot blow the candles out. My lips just will not work, my mouth is dropping and by the following day, I am back in hospital. I have Bell’s palsy! What is happening now? Just another two weeks stay in hospital.

Following ten bone marrow biopsies, two stem cell transplants, two cases of sepsis and two years in and out of hospital, I am finally home with family. I remained positive throughout my experience and now use my story to help others through their impending journey. I value life and the experience leukaemia presented me is one I learnt a lot from.

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