Colm's Story

'Colm's Story' image

My name is Colm Griffin; I am from Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry. I am an Electrical Design Engineer and work in an SME. I am 35 years of age. I've played GAA since I was 8 and took up cycling in 2009 as an alternative as it was flexible and I could plan my cycling around work commitments.

From a screening scan (due to family history) it was found I had a 3mm aneurysm on the right side of my head I decided to have an elective surgery to fix the aneurysm in my head.

I arrived on the 18th November 2015 in CUH and had the surgery. Then I had a blood clot during the surgical procedure which led to a stroke. The complete left side of my body was paralysed. I was operated on again immediately and the clot removed. The aftermath recovery was in an ICU ward for one week followed by four weeks with intensive rehabilitation in the neuro surgery ward in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Following the surgery I felt abandoned; no one gave a crap about me and my rehabilitation in the hospital. It was like; your aneurysm is fixed. Sure it's time now to go home and sort yourself out to walk and use your left arm. I was so angry that day; I was raging inside. So I arrived in hospital a 100% fit and healthy 35 year old man with full mobility and now the hospital system thinks I'm fixed yet I'm wobbling around with limp leg, foot and arm and hand that presently does not function at all.

How the HSE can't see how rehab is as important, if not more important than medical procedure, baffles me! I'm no way blaming the medical professionals that have been part of my medical and rehab team. They're just tied by the overall management and the 'system'. 

The existing CUH rehab services require so much more financial funding to let them carry out their fantastic work, have more time with patients, adequate facilities and staff. There must also be a rehab bed allocation to keep patients until they are able to progress to the next stage of their rehab.

I'm really just frustrated at the health system or lack of when you're discharged from hospital. It's non-existent, definitely in Munster and without a doubt in Kerry, end of story when it comes to intensive rehab for patients who are able for it to get them back to where they were before their problem occurred.

I got a bed in the NRH on 3rd February 2016. I think I'm probably got it because I complained and shouted the loudest. I know everyone on my rehab team in the NRH has worked so hard getting me to where I am now and for that I'm so grateful but at the same time can't help feeling that I haven't got the most out of my time there. For the national centre, the NRH is not properly resourced and there are many limitations to what they can offer there. I shared my thoughts with the NRH and made a few recommendations to them too based on my experience.

I made real progress with my leg and hand but finishing in the NRH means I have to start all over again in Kerry General Hospital. I do realise the progress I have made; just look at the photos from where it all started. You work as hard as you can and you'll have good days, bad days, lazy days, angry days, and deflated days with yourself about your progress. You go through every feeling with it.

 

It will be argued, that's it's down to yourself to get better and that is correct 100%! If I could look at the recovery being like a mountain stage of the Tour de France; yes the person has to have the will, the drive, the focus, the believe in himself to reach the top but every now and then they fall off their bike and need a hand to get back on and a push to get moving!

 

I hope my story shows the people who do control the money decisions in the HSE that rehab is an essential part of treatment that services need to be developed and funded properly in order to provide the therapists that are needed. They are the cold face of rehabilitation and they are changing people's lives every day!