I opened my eyes and saw double
MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE:IT WAS during Mass on Christmas Day 2005 that I heard my daughter’s voice clearly in my ear, saying: “Mammy, something is wrong with your head.” I was extremely lucky to have received that warning because it turned out that I had two aneurysms in my brain that could have caused untold damage if they had burst.
The voice I heard was that of my daughter, Ciara, who had died in 1989 at the age of seven after a battle with leukaemia.
You never get over the death of a child, you just learn to live with that person not being around – and I have always felt Ciara close to me in spirit.
She was four when she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and we spent the next three years travelling up and down to Crumlin hospital. It’s not easy to watch your child go through those awful tests and treatments, and it was a very tough time for us at the end.
Ciara was supposed to go to the UK for a bone marrow transplant but the staff were not available to travel with her from Crumlin so her transplant was delayed, and in the meantime she had a relapse.
I met many politicians at the time to try to fight for her rights and it saddens me to see that things have not changed in a lot of our hospitals since, particularly for children.
When I got that message at Mass on Christmas Day it was a very busy and stressful time for me at work. I had set up my own childcare company, Grovelands Childcare in the Midlands, and had just finished purpose building two large facilities in Athlone and Tullamore, and started building one in Mullingar.
I had increased my workforce from me and one other person to me and now 73 others. There was a lot going on and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time.
When I came out of Mass, my vision was slightly distorted and I couldn’t drive the car home. The vision distortion continued over Christmas and one morning I opened my eyes and was seeing double. My doctor sent me to the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, where an MRI scan showed up an aneurysm.
I was sent home to Glasheen in Athlone for six weeks and told to sit as still as I could until I could get a bed in Beaumont Hospital.
I was warned not to bend over or make sudden movements and to relax as best I could. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful country area surrounded by nature and I constantly visualised myself being better and at home after the surgery.