Lazarus-forum | Harry’s Story

Harry’s Story

I retired from the army in 1998 and was in very good health. I was born in Skibbereen ,West Cork and always went back there on holidays. Coming up to retirement I got the urge to return and either buy or build a retirement home there. Against all the advise I got at a retirement course I went ahead and came across a small property in the hills outside Schull. The small cottage I bought was not in great condition so I had it demolished and built a new house on the site. From the stones of the old cottage I got a local builder to build boundary dry stone walls. I learned this old skill from him and was able to continue and build some more myself. This is heavy work and I got great satisfaction from it. This was in addition to landscaping my large site and when I look back I realise that I must have had robust health .Maybe as a result of this I got some problems with my knee and elbow, but surgery rectified both conditions.

Then after fifteen years of retirement, my whole lifestyle was changed. My wife Emer and myself were about to go on a short holiday in February 2013 to Lanzarote. I had been in good health over the winter but in mid January I got a touch of diarrhoea and stomach upset, which was rampant at the time. I got a shake in my head and a tightening in my chest on my way to the airport. Luckily I realised that something unusual was happening to me and I got medical attention from the airport ambulance service and ended up in Beaumont hospital .I had picked up a very rare kidney disease called Goodpasture’s syndrome. This causes end-stage kidney failure and only 3/4 people get it in any one year on the island of Ireland .I was lucky to end up in Beaumont, which is the centre of excellence for kidney disease in Ireland. Had I got on the aircraft I may not be writing this today.

My consultant in Beaumont was surprised that I seemed to take this shock so well. I suppose it took some time before I realised that I would now required dialysis three times a week. Again luckily for me Ireland is one o the best countries in the world for kidney failure and I get picked up by taxi at my home in Kildare and returned from Beaumont after the dialysis is over. (three and a half hours in my case) For the first three months of this treatment I was also in the hope that after one year I would go on the list for a kidney transplant. Looking forward to this was a great morale booster.

Then came my second bad luck of 2013. After a routine scan of my kidneys it was discovered that my left kidney was cancerous and had to come out urgently. This was serious enough but I also got the bad news that I would not be considered for a transplant for five years. This took some time to sink in but I was told that I could still be considered for a transplant if I remain healthy. I am now 75 years old but I have heard of a woman who received a transplant at 79 years. This gives me the resolve to have hope and do my best to keep to the somewhat restricted diet I am now on and have a healthy lifestyle.

My big danger is that the cancer would have gone into my bladder. I am having scans into the bladder under full anaesthetic ever three months. So far the results have been quite good and again I have great hope that I will fully recover. I am a reasonably religious person, a member of a very good church choir at The Curragh Camp and I do some of the readings at a midweek mass at the Carmelite church in Kildare. I find this to be a great support.

In fact since I got seriously ill I have had great support from my family and friends .My wife Emer, my only son Eamonn and his wife Maria have been superb. All my friends and relations have rallied around. In fact one of my problems was to put people off from visiting me after surgery until I was well enough to receive them. I am a retired army officer and it was particularly pleasing the way my old classmates from the Cadet School, Military College rallied around and organised several lunch’s for me.

For now I feel reasonably well and healthy and try to get on with my life .I continue to sing with my choir at Sunday mass .I cannot use my holiday home in West Cork as before, but I have got to accept this. Going on holidays now is more difficult as I have to have dialysis arranged in advance but the nurses in Beaumont are very co-operative. Again I look forward to receiving good news at my next bladder scope but I don’t know how I would react should the news not be good. But then I pray and so do many of my friends that this situation will not arise.