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Living their best lives - Dorothy Nwangwa, 79

Back in June 2019, I had to undergo a bowel operation after I woke up one morning to a great pain in my stomach. I waited for four hours for the pain to go away but it didn’t, so I dialled 999 and rushed to hospital. I was in theatre for three hours and my lower bowel was taken away completely – the doctors didn’t understand how I survived, nobody had had that kind of problem and lived.

I was discharged from hospital after three weeks and as I live alone I had to have a carer to help me in the bathroom, another carer to clean my house, and one to do my shopping. Gradually as time went on, water started to build up in my body and I was so swollen I reached 12 stone in weight, so I was rushed back into hospital, where they got rid of the water and then I was sent home and the first lockdown happened.

No one could see me apart from my carers, not even my GP or the doctor from Warwick hospital – so I was just sitting at home day in and day out. So 2020 went, and then another lockdown happened, and that was when I called my son and said “you’d better start looking for somewhere else for me to go, if I carry on living here, I will die”. 

He asked if I wanted to go to a care home and I said yes. However, he replied “my mother is not old enough to live in a care home, I’m not going to tell my friends my mother is in a care home” and looked into alternative options like retirement communities. Austin Heath was the third place he visited and he knew he’d be happy for me to live here.

When he brought me to visit Austin Heath, I looked around and I was in tears because I thought it was so beautiful – I fell in love with the place and didn’t want to go home. I decided to move in after four visits. The village adviser team helped review my finances to see if I could afford to live at Austin Heath and they helped me realise I could rent here.

I feel healthier since moving to Austin Heath. Even though I had a walker I wasn’t able to go out in my old home; I was scared I was going to fall and no one would pick me up, but I came here and straightaway I started using it. I use the gym twice a week, go to seated exercise classes, and I’m learning to swim. Compared to two months ago, my children can’t believe I am the same Dorothy; I’ve lost lots of weight – I’m now seven stone.

My old friends come and visit me here for lunch regularly and they love the food! I really enjoy the Sunday roast. I’ve recommended living here to all my friends.

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