Paul Martin from Bacup has lived with Multiple Sclerosis or MS as we more commonly know it for fourteen years. Since his diagnosis at 32 years old, Paul’s life has been turned upside down.

Paul was married, had a family and worked full time as an engineer. He was young and fit, walking a total of fifteen miles to work and back every day.

Paul was also in the second year of a degree course and noticed that he was finding it harder to read the course books and retain information, something he’d always found quite easy. Paul struggled mentally but never thought anything more until the day that changed his life.

Whilst walking home from work he fell three times, for no apparent reason, by standers thought he was drunk. Paul knew something was wrong and made an appointment with his doctor. Paul’s doctor referred his to Salford Royal Hospital where he was diagnosed as having MS, father of two young children was told he had a life limiting condition for which there is still no cure.

Paul endured eighteen months of chemotherapy, he had to inject himself with a drug called Copaxone every single day for six years and now he takes a cocktail of drugs to reduce his symptoms.

Paul’s life fell apart, he lost his job because he could no longer do it, his marriage broke down, some days he couldn’t remember his own name. Paul says “I find the symptoms of my illness very frustrating. I get tired all the time, have a limited concentration span, poor mobility and sometime slurred speech. I used to love walking over the hills but now I rely on a walking stick, I would love to be able to ride a bike but I just don’t have the balance. Fortunately for now I can still drive”.

On a bad day, Paul will struggle to walk around his home and be confined to its four walls alone whilst his partner is at work. On a good day, Paul might visit his friends at Rawtenstall Chess Club. Paul considers every Thursday as a good day because that is when visits Rossendale Hospice.

Rossendale Hospice supports many people and their families whose lives have been turned upside down following the diagnosis of a life limiting illness.

Paul self-referred to the Hospice by simply telephoning the Day Therapy team. At the Hospice Paul meets other people who also have a life limiting illness; they will chat about their treatment, symptom control, how they are feeling and how to cope. In addition there is also lots of fun and laughter; Paul has tried to teach others chess. Paul finds it comforting that the experienced nurses are on hand to answer any questions he might have and if they don’t know the answer, they will find out. Whilst at the Hospice, Paul will enjoy a meal and a complementary therapy of his choice; Paul finds enormous benefit from massage therapy.

Our Day Therapy team care for up to seventy five patients a week, each at different stages of their illness and with varying needs. For many patients, the Hospice gives them chance to talk to others who really do understand what they are going through, to have a complementary therapy or counselling, for others it is an opportunity for their carer to have some respite knowing that their loved one is in the best possible care.

Despite the challenges Paul has faced, he remains very upbeat and positive about life and has got a lot to look forward to as he and his fiancée will be getting married in two years.