After major surgery left Sue Bayley almost completely house-bound, her confidence took a big knock – but we helped her venture outside again and embrace the world.
Against the odds, Sue Bayley has led a pretty active life.
Despite having an inherited condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), the former school physio from Exeter has always been fiercely independent and adventurous.
All her life, she’s loved getting out and about – even to the extent of going on regular deep-sea fishing trips.
But in recent years, worsening mobility problems had started to keep the 68-year-old closer to home. And then a major operation last year brought her world crashing down.
Sue said: “After the surgery, my mobility deteriorated so much that for six months I only left the house for hospital appointments. Although I’m a positive person, it shocked me a bit.”
At hospital, the pensioner was pleased – and a bit curious – when a therapist mentioned our support at home service. She recalled: “They said the British Red Cross could help me, and I thought: I wonder how?”
She was soon to find out. Given her condition, Sue definitely needed someone outside her family to lend a hand around the home and do the shopping.
As she put it: “My children support me when they can but my daughter is also ill, and my son is self-employed and works a lot.”
When support at home volunteer Kim Allan showed up, the pair immediately hit it off – but Sue was still terrified by the prospect of going out again.
She said: “I didn’t let on to my family how nervous I was about going out, because I didn’t want to worry them – but I could confide in Kim and she put me at ease.”
‘Noisy and bewildering’
Sue’s ultimate goal was to get back out on her mobility scooter and visit the local supermarket, but she was very nervous. For the first couple of weeks, Kim went shopping alone while Sue gradually built up her confidence.
Then, on a bright sunny morning, Sue finally took the plunge and scootered down to the shops with Kim.
She recalled: “Everything seemed so noisy and there were so many people about. It was totally bewildering, so I was really glad to have Kim along with me.
“The whole episode was emotionally draining, but I had a huge sense of achievement afterwards. And I don’t think I would have managed it without Kim.”
With just a few more trips, Kim soon had Sue feeling far more confident. Now the pensioner is taking a computer course, and gets out and about at least twice a week on her mobility scooter.
After all this time, she’s rediscovered her love of the outdoors.
Find out more about our support at home service.
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