In New York

In New York

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A Busy August

The Trip Home

Members of the Maher Clan and friends gather at Mairt's house 

It’s been a busy August and I guess you could call it successful on most counts. Since we spoke last, we’ve been to Dublin and back, Tom has been accepted to Southampton University (loud cheers and clapping – ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’…etc.) and we’ve had a change in personnel here. We also celebrated our 23rd Wedding Anniversary by attending a League One football match!

Now if you’d said to me on my Wedding Day that for my 23rd Wedding anniversary I’d be going to a local football match, I would have said ‘Forget the whole thing.’ But you know what? I had a good time. How things change in 23 years.

The Dublin trip went well, with everything slotting perfectly into place. The Irish MND Association came up trumps again. Back at the planning stages, I called our contact there, Tracy, to arrange for equipment loan (this year we needed more help than last, predictably). She it was who suggested I contact Muscular Dystrophy Ireland to enquire about the availability of their specially adapted apartment in Dublin’s pretty Chapelizod area. Unbelievably, they had a room with PA room attached vacant for seven nights in early August. They ask a nominal fee per night, per room. Each room is equipped with ceiling hoists, profiling beds and ensuite wet room. They do their best to make the rooms less ‘hospital’ and more ‘holiday’. The lift can be operated by a wheelchair user and the kitchen stove can be lowered for those who can cook. Kitchen and living room area are communal and we shared the facilities with a couple and their small daughter for the first few days. After that, we had the place to ourselves due to some cancellations. The place was a Godsend. Originally intended for people with muscular dystrophy only, it took them 20 years of fundraising to build. Now it is open to anyone with a neurological condition. For us it means we know we have a place to stay in Dublin for the foreseeable future. Chapelizod is an ideal location for us, situated more or less between the North and South sides of the river Liffey, so equidistant from Maher and Malone sides of the family.

Roch and the kids made the annual Maher family trip to the ancestral home in Tullarone, Co. Kilkenny, the Dublin Maher family get-together was held in brother Mairt’s house in Clontarf – even the famous poker game took place – Roch cleaned them out, I’m happy to report! The womenfolk made themselves scarce on poker night. Kate, Maura and I took the opportunity to go to the theatre. We chose Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ at the Gate theatre. Not a barrel of laughs, it’s true (what can you expect from Tennessee Williams?) but we couldn’t help identifying with Blanche and her sister, who were also refugees from the menfolks’ poker game – although our return to Mairt’s house was a little less dramatic!

The menfolk gather for the big game

The IMNDA had provided a ramp and also a commode chair for Roch to use in Mairt’s house. Another anxiety removed and something of a milestone passed (no pun intended…)

When our time with the lovely MDI people came to an end (and we could not have felt more welcomed by them), we moved house to the Gibson Hotel once again, where the IMNDA had once again come up trumps – a standing hoist was waiting for us in the room. We didn’t need this piece of equipment  there last year but this time around, we really could not have managed without it. Roch needed it to get off the bed, the toilet and the shower seat. Just for the record, the Gibson room for disabled? Perfect.

We stayed there for three nights and on night two, they kindly sectioned off part of the bar area for a ‘Gathering’ of our own with friends and family.

As Roch’s carer, I found our time in the Gibson most relaxing, but overall, just to get away was refreshing and profounding satisfying to prove that four years after diagnosis, we are still going back to Dublin in the summer, as we always did.

Many, many thanks to the IMNDA and MDI for making it possible – and thanks too, to Paudie, who shared the driving with me on the way over (we made it by the skin of our teeth onto the ferry!) and Mairt, who was co-driver on the journey back. Thanks guys, couldn’t have done it in one day without you.

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