Dougie Atkinson has an undiagnosed neurological condition and first came to Bluebell Wood at eight months old, after being referred for respite. His parents, Beth and Antony, were first told there might be complications when Beth was 33 weeks pregnant. Beth shares the story of her smiley, gorgeous boy.
“I was told early on the devastating news that it was unlikely Dougie would live. Once he was born, and I found out that his complications were neurological, I had such a huge mix of feelings. Dougie spent the first months of his life on the high dependency unit.
”I was told about Bluebell Wood’s respite care when Dougie was being discharged. I had no idea at the time of how much support Bluebell Wood offered to families like ours. When I first got there, I was blown away by how welcoming it is and how supported Dougie and I felt.
”Dougie uses a ventilator overnight, is peg-fed and has a tracheostomy. There are few people who can give him the specialist support he needs. Dougie is an alert youngster and has become more stabilised. Seizures are still occurring, which is terrifying, but Dougie is incredible; he just keeps on fighting.
“Having Bluebell Wood helps a lot. A couple of years ago, Dougie got really poorly, and his support needed to be switched to palliative care. After several spells of hospital admissions, Bluebell Wood’s specialist care staff provided a welcoming, calming place where I knew Dougie was in safe hands.
“It was then that it really hit home to me how important Bluebell Wood was. Now, on those really bad days, I know that I can bring Dougie to the hospice and he’ll be looked after properly. It gives me time to myself, without having to worry. I tend to stay with Dougie but sometimes I leave him and it’s comforting to know he’s safe.
“It’s not just about the respite care we receive, it’s the whole package. I still have really hard times, of course, but I’m confident that everything that can be done is being done at Bluebell Wood. If Dougie’s poorly, just knowing that I can ring up and speak to someone who actually knows him, and who can give me advice, is brilliant.
“Dougie is such a happy boy. He enjoys cuddles, being outside, going on his swing and licking his giraffe Stanley. He always smiles when you stroke his head, and he’s started laughing when you wave his arms around. To me, there’s nothing more important than seeing him laugh and feel happy.
“Dougie loves Bluebell Wood; it’s one of the few places he knows where he’s going and where he feels relaxed. Without the hospice and its staff, I just couldn’t live the way I do now.”