Being in the hospital can be scary and stressful, especially when it’s an unpredicted event. We spoke to two patients of the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, who found that by using the psychology and counselling services whilst in hospital, they could get the right support when they needed it.

Dr Rachel Avison, Senior Clinical Psychologist, also shares her thoughts.

[team_member img=”7059″ style=”default” name=”Leah Kitchen” image_height=”100%” image_width=”21″ image_radius=”100″]

Leah’s Story


“In December, I went to Leeds in an ambulance, which was very scary. It was also sad knowing that I would be away from my family for 6 weeks. I needed emergency heart surgery. Luckily, everything went well and I’m very grateful for my surgeon, Miss Van Doorn, who was amazing.


I made a very good recovery and was out of intensive care the next day and out of bed the day after that. The nurses were also amazing and really kept me going.


The whole journey felt like it took forever.


But, to anyone reading this in a situation like mine I just wanted to say that talking really helps!


Rachel says: 


“Being in a hospital and a long distance away from family, friends and pets can be very tough. It is great that Leah felt supported during her stay and encourages others to talk if they feel able to.


Being worried or sad in the hospital and not telling others can be a very isolating experience. It often helps people to know that difficult thoughts and feelings in the hospital are normal.


Temporary distress is actually a psychologically healthy response to an adverse event. With the right support and an opportunity to talk things through in confidence, worries and sadness do begin to pass.”

[team_member img=”7065″ style=”default” name=”James Rispin” image_height=”100%” image_width=”21″ image_radius=”100″]

James’ story


“I was recently back in hospital as an inpatient for the first time since my original open heart surgery at 3 weeks old. Whilst in the hospital I had a stroke which caused paralysis on my left-hand side. It was incredibly scary.


My parents and I have always had a very positive attitude to everything we do and I try not to let my heart condition affect me, so I was determined to get the use of my left side back as quick as possible.


Luckily I now have normal use of my hand and I can walk again, however, the experience did shake me and at times it was difficult to be positive.


Rachel and her team at Leeds were incredibly helpful to me in the hospital and continue to offer their amazing support even now I am home.


I would recommend that if you are going through a tough time it is worth talking to a member of the team about how you are feeling.


At first I was unsure, but to be honest I was surprised how uplifting it was. It is definitely worth it and it meant that I was able to get back to my old self.”


Rachel says:


 “Being admitted to hospital unexpectedly can be an extremely frightening experience. On top of this, some patients do encounter further challenges which can be overwhelming.


It is understandable that James struggled to be positive following his stroke but he remained mindful of the impact of his mood on his overall health and I was impressed by how willing James was to give talking a go.


As James says, sharing personal thoughts and feelings with a trained professional outside of your family or friends can feel different initially.


However, doing so allows the necessary time and space to process traumatic memories and identify strengths that can be used to overcome challenges.


Since hospital, James has done very well to return to college and back to the things he enjoys, well done James!”


Remember if you need to get in touch with the Leeds Congenital Heat Unit’s counselling and psychology service, you can call them on 0113 3926796. It’s #BecauseOfYou that this service is an established support service for our patients.