On the 5th February 2017 I received the devastating news we had been dreading, My dear friend Millie’s world was torn apart as her husband, her soul mate and best friend had passed away. Paul was husband, brother, father, friend, but he was so much more.
A dark cloud sat above our little village community that day as we mourned the loss of our Mr Sunshine – Paul “Lobby” Croft – One In A Million. He was so, so loved.
St Barnabas hospice had been a true lifeline for Millie and her family and in Paul’s honor today and that of Millie’s lovely mum Betty I wanted to share Millie’s story once again as she continues to raise awareness of the fantastic work the angels of St Barnabas do.
St Barnabas has been a huge thing in my life and it started with my mum. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2015. She went to the hospice for pain and medication management. She was so happy there, and it made a massive difference to her. Before that, she was struggling enormously. She was at home being sick, not eating and crying in pain. When we went to see the specialist he said the cancer had spread to her stomach, her liver and her spleen, so she was really struggling with pain. So the doctor said she was going to get her into St Barnabas. Mum was there for two weeks and the change in her was unbelievable. They got her eating again. She looked well and she wasn’t in pain. We were hopeful that we could have the summer with her. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan and she died at home, two weeks after coming out of St Barnabas.
There’s no comparison between being in St Barnabas, and having that type of care, and being at home and having the carers come in. Mum was always worried about everything but when she was at St Barnabas, she was so relaxed. You could see it in her face. Those two weeks in St Barnabas were amazing and I’m so glad that we had that. The team at St Barnabas were fantastic. They’re angels. They’ve got to be a special kind of person to work there. I actually don’t know how they do it.
Mum died in April 2015 and then in December 2016, my husband Paul became ill. I’m a taxi driver and he was a taxi driver too. We met working on the rank and we fell in love. It was love at first sight. He was definitely my soulmate. We met in 2007 and were together for 10 years. He was a lot of fun. He loved family. He loved cricket, he loved football, and he loved the Olympics. He really was the life and soul of the party.
They initially diagnosed him as having a nervous breakdown and thought he was depressed. I didn’t feel that was what it was so I went back to the doctor and they did some different tests and he said it wasn’t psychiatric, it was neurological. The doctor wrote a letter to Worthing Hospital and we went that day, on 4 January, to the emergency ward and never left. We were all there till the end and I never felt like anything was too much trouble. “ ” For one week we were in the emergency ward where they did CT and MRI scans. He was deteriorating rapidly. Finally, he was diagnosed with CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). They say it’s like dementia fast forward times ten. Only 66 people a year in the country get CJD. He was just so unlucky.
The doctor said they wanted to move him to a nursing home, but I didn’t want that to happen. Where would I want him to be? The best place. So, I asked if he could go to St Barnabas. They came out the next day, Friday, assessed him and said “we’ll take him in on Monday.” He had two weeks there. It was unusual for them to take someone with CJD. But it’s not all cancer there. It’s all kinds of end of life care. By the time he got to St Barnabas, everything was just shutting down. We had our own room. I didn’t stay there every night but the last week I did. One day I became worried about my dog alone at home but when I spoke to one of the nurses and told her I had a funny feeling about leaving the hospice she told me to bring the dog in. So, for the next week, our dog, Bert, lived at St Barnabas.
It was quite a large family on Paul’s side. He had four brothers, all older. They were there a lot. My children were there too. I never once felt like I was putting the staff out. They can never do enough for you. That was the Wednesday night when I said it didn’t feel right. The next morning, Thursday morning, they said, “we think you should make the call and get the family in.” He held on until Sunday morning. We were all there till the end and I never felt like anything was ever too much trouble. Paul died with dignity. Like most men, he was really proud. He was very fit. And he loved the sun. He was always brown. When he passed away, he’d lost quite a lot of weight on his legs but he still looked like Paul. He looked really handsome. He just slipped away really peacefully. With mum, I did have some counselling, and there’s lots of aftercare at St Barnabas as well. There’s plenty of people you can talk to there. But I didn’t have it with Paul. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have counselling, I just found my support with friends and family. We got through last Christmas OK. That was the first one without him. This’ll be the second. Everybody has to go through bereavement but I feel like I had a bit of a double dose of it. I’m doing alright now. St Barnabas have done so much to help me and my family. But there are loads more families who need their help right now.
Please follow the link below to donate to St Barnabas and help other families by supporting the work of these angels.