Life can throw curve balls at any time..

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My Name is Roy Brown I am a retired Trinity College Chemistry lecturer.  My wife Anne is living with dementia.  Anne moved into Avoca Lodge in St Joseph’s Shankill last summer.

Life can throw curve balls at any time, I first met Anne when I was in my early fifties certainly a confirmed bachelor.   Obviously at that stage the issue for me was more “Mission Impossible” than “Cherchez la Femme”.

I remember it was late afternoon in mid January and there was deep snow all around. I was waiting to cross the road to Pearse station when a “vision of loveliness” passed in front of me. I was immediately smitten and followed the lady into the station, I had to speak with her, while this may not be the most appropriate way to approach ones true love it worked for me!  The snow made it easier to start a conversation and the conversations kept going, throughout an 18 months courtship.

With time marching on (neither of us were very young), I went to Anne’s home to address her father. “James Joseph Patrick Aloysius O’Loughlin, I love your daughter sir, and I wish to take her hand in marriage”, “Can you keep her in the style to which she has become accustomed?” he replied.  I of course agreed and I have done my best to do so ever since.

The vision of loveliness and Big Bad Roy Brown said ‘I do’ on 10th of August 1988.  Not long after our honeymoon it became apparent that my mother in law’s health was declining which developed over time into an advanced dementia.  We looked after her as best we could.

We have enjoyed a lot of good times together over the years but unfortunately Anne has not enjoyed good health.  Over the last number of years, Anne’s memory began to fail and it soon became apparent that Anne was going down the same road as her mother. But to put the” tin hat” on it, Anne started to suffer from “Temporal Arteritis”. The massive doses of steroid to counter the condition knocked Anne sideways.

Anne ended up spending over a month in hospital. When Anne emerged, the social worker was talking “Care Home” but I was talking “Home Care”. I took Anne home but on the advice of the professionals put her name down in several nursing homes just in case.  We struggled on at home for about two years. Anne has a sister Patricia who lives in Spain and a cousin who lives in Sligo. Anne’s brother Jim is deceased.  With no children we have no immediate family to help.

During that time, the very dedicated public health nurse got Anne into Saint Joseph’s for a week of respite and we were very lucky then to have a place three days per week in their day care service.  This all went very well but we were losing ground at home.

It was getting more and more difficult for me to fulfil my promise to Anne’s father.

One day at Saint Joseph’s I met red haired lady with an air of authority who introduced herself as the director of nursing. I seized the opportunity to avail of her knowledge and she talked to me about our problems and kindly agreed to have an assessment carried  out for Anne. About a month later Anne was offered to make Saint Joseph’s her permanent home.  I took several deep breaths and said “Yes thank you”.

The day Anne moved in to Saint Joseph’s was difficult for me but neighbours and friends were very kind.   One of the excellent carers on duty looked after Anne while I beat a hasty retreat. Anne has been looked after with kindness and love ever since. A remarkable thing about Saint Joseph’s is that EVERYONE  is helpful, cheerful and kind, not just the nurses and carers.

Anne is never told what to do, it is Anne who takes the lead in what she wishes to do during the day, the staff go with ‘her’ flow and connect with her in a way that I no longer could do at home for her.  But it is not just Anne who is receiving the best care around, all the families and relatives as well are welcomed into the Saint Joseph’s family. I myself have at least twice as many friends now compared to before we were both embraced into the care of the team.

Friends who visit Anne are very thrilled, as was Anne’s sister when she visited from Spain.  People say that there is always something going on, sometimes Anne is too busy to see me!  My favourite quote is from a certain doctor. “If I were sick, I would want the nurses here looking after me”! So would I, in ill health or not!

When Anne was at home I was worried about one thing in particular. What would happen if I succumbed to the dreaded lurgy or was thrown under a bus? Now that worry for me is completely gone. I know that Anne will be looked after in the best possible way, even in the event of what my former students would regard as my all-too-long awaited demise!

We have been lucky to be a part of the Saint Joseph’s family, so I have pledged to leave a legacy in my will to ensure that the team in Saint Joseph’s can keep caring this way long into the future.

It is lovely to know that I can help people, even after I die.  The team at Saint Joseph’s ensure that people know they are loved and cherished and that they are still needed and that they matter, just like Anne and I feel today at Saint Joseph’s Shankill.

 

 

 

To pledge your legacy to Saint Joseph’s Shankill; Contact Siobhan on 01 282 3000 / Siobhan.grant@sjog.ie                                                                                     CHY 18282

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