February 8, 2024

Olaf’s story

Back in 2022, Olaf became a beneficiary of Horatio’s Garden Wales. He soon met Colin, a member of the wonderful volunteer team working in the garden. Olaf generously told Colin his story, sharing his feelings about the garden and explaining why it was so important to him. Now, he’s kindly sharing his story with all of you too.

Living in Llanelli in South Wales, 53 year-old Olaf spent much of his life working as a jeweller and a carpenter in London, writing poetry in his free time. He first began to suffer back pain six years ago, but continued to go about his life as usual, often spending time with friends and family.

Until one day, Olaf’s life suddenly changed. As he walked to visit a friend, he collapsed, soon finding himself in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. It was the beginning of a long journey that would see Olaf spending many months away from the place he called home.

Initially placed in an induced coma, Olaf spent three months lying flat on his back once he regained consciousness. He was told he was tetraplegic; both his arms and his legs were paralysed.

After being discharged from the University Hospital of Wales in December 2022, Olaf was transferred to the Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre at University Hospital Llandough in Cardiff. It was here that he discovered Horatio’s Garden Wales.

“The garden is an escape. I couldn’t wait for my powered wheelchair to arrive so that I could navigate the short distance from the ward to the garden independently.”

“Being able to visit the garden whenever I choose means I spend almost all my time, every day, in the garden. I often visit at night too.”

Having a quiet place to spend time alone, but also with friends and family, helped Olaf to adjust to his life-changing injuries.

“I am so thankful for the peace, tranquillity, and fresh air. I often find myself looking out across the countryside to the distant waters of the Bristol Channel. The garden gives me a chance to clear my head.”

When not taking a moment to himself to reflect, Olaf could often be found at the heart of the thriving community in Horatio’s Garden Wales. With the Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre among the smaller spinal centres in the UK, patients and their loved ones come to know each other well, with friendships flourishing in Horatio’s Garden.

“I enjoy the friendships I’ve made with other patients and the volunteers, not to mention the cakes and other treats shared in the garden room!”

After spending over ten months at University Hospital Llandough, Olaf is now looking to the future. He has accepted his disability and upon leaving hospital plans to move to a supportive home close to his family. Until then, he intends to share his experiences and wisdom to help his fellow patients and their families.

“If I could say one thing to other patients, it would be to enjoy your time in Horatio’s Garden and take advantage of all it can offer.”

His advice will undoubtedly have made a difference to countless people’s lives already and we are certain that by sharing his story, Olaf will inspire many more individuals to find out what awaits them in Horatio’s Garden Wales.

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