Christmas spirit has never been better
With all the shopping, cooking and entertaining, Christmas can seem challenging but spare a thought for the thousands of patients up and down the country who are either residing in hospital over the festive season or preparing to go home after a long period away from their families.
Both situations are emotionally fraught in their own right and we caught up with two families for whom Christmas means a lot more than just receiving the perfect gift from Santa.
Seán Regan suffered a spinal spasm in September of this year and lost the use of his legs. Since the day he was admitted to hospital, the Mayo man (who lives in Dublin) has been working hard to try to regain some of the feeling in his legs and ultimately to learn to walk again.
He is not due for discharge until January but will be allowed home for a few days over Christmas and is determined to make the most of his “time out”.
“My wife Jean and I went on holiday to Portugal at the beginning of September and I began to feel something was wrong with my legs,” says the retired salesman. “We had a lovely time abroad but just 10 days after we returned, I had what is called a spinal spasm and was taken into the Hermitage Hospital on September 18th.
“I was diagnosed with some sort of a stroke, but the doctors couldn’t pinpoint what happened – all we know is that I lost the power to my legs on that day.”
After spending three weeks in the Hermitage, the 69 year old was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital where a team of occupational therapists and physiotherapists are working with him to help restore movement.
“I am very positive and have been determined right from the start that I will walk out of here,” he says. “I do a lot of physical therapy every day and I feel like I am improving all the time, but I’m not quite there yet.”
“Everyone has been great to visit me, but I can’t wait to go home for Christmas. We will have the traditional turkey dinner, my children, Aisling and John, will be around as will Jean’s mother from Kerry and lots of other family members and friends will visit.
“It’s normally my job to decorate the house as I love doing it but this year things will obviously be a little different. But I’m so glad I had the foresight to leave the decorations on the tree when I put it back in the loft because John will take it down for me when I get home and it will be ready to go.