A Cahir woman is calling on the people of Tipperary to support the â€œbrilliant workâ€ of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA).
Catherine Walsh lost her husband Lar to upper and lower Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in August 2013, aged 61.
She is now trying to create awareness about MND and is encouraging people to Drink Tea for MND this Sunday, June 21st which is Global MND/Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis awareness day.
Father of Laura (29) and Rachel (23), Lar was 6â€™5â€ and was actively involved in the Cahir Scouts until the progressive neurological condition prevented him from continuing doing â€œthe simple thingsâ€ that he cherished most in life. Catherine tells South Tipp Today: â€œLar would bring me to the places he visited with the scouts. He loved fishing and motor sports, and we would go to GAA and rugby matches. He was a real family man, and loved his grandchildren dearlyâ€.
At first, Larâ€™s symptoms were mild enough to ignore. An accident earlier in life had left Lar with no left elbow, and he also had diabetes, so he would put his deteriorating health down to those underlying conditions. However, as he worsened, Catherine knew it was time to seek help. â€œA puff of wind would have knocked Lar over. He just couldnâ€™t lift his legs, and by evening time Lar sounded like he was drunk. The doctors said he had the condition with four years before diagnosisâ€.
Two years on from his passing, Catherine can still see her husband lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. However, she says that the â€œhorrible diseaseâ€ has brought her family closer together and hails the support she received from the HSE and the IMNDA.
â€œLar didnâ€™t like hospitals, and 90 per cent of the time youâ€™d ask him to go to hospital heâ€™d say no. But I can see the look on his face and the fear in his eyes the night he died. He didnâ€™t want to go. The doctors said his lungs were like those of someone who had died of carbon monoxide poisoning because he couldnâ€™t breathe out.
â€œThe girls mightnâ€™t have thought it when I was up and down to Cork with Lar, but it has brought us closer together as a family. Lar was only given 12 to 18 months when he was diagnosed so to get seven years with him is a testimony to the support we received from the our local GP, the HSE and the IMNDA. If he needed a bed, a special toilet or anything like that he had it within days. As Lar used to say, â€˜you only have to have MND and youâ€™ll get itâ€™â€.
Catherine is urging people to organise a Tea Day this Sunday or Text MND to 50300 and donate â‚¬2 to the IMNDA. â€œMost of the funds raised go back into the patients, and help provide specialised aids and equipment, home help and respite services and the provision of two or three??? MND nurses who visit patients on a daily basis. The IMNDA also run a carers weekend which is a great opportunity to meet others with the condition, learn about the different symptoms and realise youâ€™re not alone,â€ she adds.