Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust

Ruth's story

Ruth Sapsed

In October 2011, busy working mum-of-three Ruth Sapsed had emergency neurosurgery for a rupture close to her brain.

“It all happened so fast. From being at the heart of everything – work, family, friends – I suddenly felt so cut off . While the ward was incredibly friendly, emotionally I found being in hospital extremely diffi cult. It was hard to relax properly, especially with my girls and husband. I really worried when the girls were there and wanted to protect them from all the shocking sights and sounds.

IRuth concourse didn’t know where to go to take my mind off  things. The heat, light and bustle of the hospital concourse felt overwhelming so I spent hours in bed watching TV, thinking about getting home. I needed a quiet space to be – somewhere relaxed and less institutional. Not bright lights, endless noises and disruptions. One day I even walked to the perimeter fence in my pyjamas, gazed at the fields and thought about walking off . The hospital does a truly exceptional job to get bodies like mine working again. But I felt the emotional experience could be improved – to treat and nourish the mind, as well as the body. A garden full of natural colours, living things and distractions, would have been lovely.

Ruth gardenIn 2015, my symptoms returned and I needed a re-run of the operation. It was a big blow and the anticipation was horrid. I didn’t want a day longer in hospital than I needed. After the operation, I was constantly looking to escape to peaceful spaces. This time, with all the new buildings everywhere, it was harder to find anywhere to go. One day, after searching for a good spot, I found a step outside to perch on with a coffee. I just wanted to feel the air on my face and soak up the early Spring sun. The view was a building site but at least I was outside – which made it easier to focus not on being ill, but on getting well again.“

It’s very clear that emotional wellbeing plays just as important a part as physical wellness on the road to recovery.