Daughter’s plea as ‘time is running out for mam’

by Sylvia Pownall

TIME is running out for a woman who suffered a brain bleed and needs rehabilitation, with her daughter warning: “If she doesn’t get help soon we may never get her back.”
Vera Ronan (63) was rushed to hospital with a clot on the brain after she was found lying in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor of the family home in Blanchardstown.
Her daughter, Natalie Treacy, says she is now “like a child” and the family have been left to look after her – with just a few hours’ home care help per week.
She said: “Mam had a fall on July 2, 2015. She fell backwards and banged her head.
“From that day to this, we have lost her – we never got her back.”
Medics initially believed Vera would not make it, but after a seven-hour surgery and 11 days in an induced coma she started to come round.
Natalie said: “Within six weeks she was able to make an almost complete physical recovery. She’s a very stubborn woman, and it probably helped her.
“The National Rehabilitation Hospital confirmed by letter in August 2015 that mam was next in line for a bed there, but to this day she never got a bed.”
Vera was moved into a single room at James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, where she stayed for the next eight months.
“They didn’t know what to do with her,” said Natalie. “She needed 24-hour care. The family used to take it in turns to sit with her. We were feeding her, washing her, walking her, doing everything for her.
“She used to spend five to seven hours a day walking up and down the hospital corridors with her bags packed.
“My mam was captain of the Dublin ladies’ darts team; she went to Spain regularly; she was very active. From that to this … To look at her was soul-destroying.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive the State and the National Rehabilitation Hospital for what they did. I felt she was degraded; gone, like a little child.”
Last February, Vera’s devoted husband, John (63) decided to take her home. She has a carer for one hour a day, five days a week, and her first visit from an occupational therapist was last week – almost a full year after she left hospital.
Natalie said: “Mam is like a child. She has no short-term memory. She has the same conversation with my dad over and over.”
A Sinn Fein councillor for Fingal, Natalie secured a meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris last November. He agreed to have her mother reassessed and approved for intensive brain rehabilitation, and to meet her again in January.
She said: “He will not even answer me now, he is ignoring me. If my mother doesn’t get the help she needs soon, we’re probably going to be left with her like this forever.
“She needs six to eight hours a day intensive brain rehabilitation for two months. If we don’t get it soon, mam will never come back to us.”
In response to a press query, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said Minister Harris fully intended to honour his promise and would contact the family “in the coming weeks”.
Meanwhile, Natalie is forced to watch her mother deteriorate and is increasingly concerned for her father’s welfare.
She said: “My dad is just on his knees. They’re together 43 years, since they were 14.
“They renewed their wedding vows in Spain after 40 years. They travelled everywhere together, did everything together. He is heartbroken.
“He went from being her lover, her best friend, her partner to her full-time carer. He adores her, he’s devoted to her, but it’s no quality of life. It’s like he’s trapped.
“I go down for a few hours every day. I do her hair, straighten her hair. I have to look into my mother’s eyes and I’m trying to do the best for her but it’s soul-destroying.
“It’s like standing on a river bank and watching her and not being able to go in and help her. It’s like she’s drowning very, very slowly.”

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