Valerie's Story - A Carer's Perspective
On 13th October 2017, Valerie Hurley’s life inextricably changed forever. Her husband Michael was diagnosed with MND. Valerie and Michael faced MND head on and together they battled the disease for over 3 years. In October 2020, Michael sadly passed away.
This is their story:
"Michael and I met eighteen years ago. I had three sons at the time and Michael just took to them like they took to him. We married in 2007, a year after Calum was born. We shared many wonderful moments shared so many memories, but like any relationship we also dealt with the hardships.
Before Michael's diagnosis was a particular rollercoaster in our marriage, which still sticks with me today, had I only seen his arm!! Had I forgiven and let go faster, then I would have seen the extent of the problem, something we thought was a trapped nerve was in fact the start of MND.
On the 13th October 2017 Michael was diagnosed within three weeks of seeing our GP by a neurologist in Bantry. He was then referred onto CUH to the MND clinic and Beaumount Hospital. Now we were faced with MND and what seemed like a rollercoaster turned into a ride that didn't stop. The past became the past, it became more important to deal with this awful disease together as hard as it may be. I knew wholeheartedly that this was a battle and Michael needed us now more than ever. After all we were made to be there for each other.
Michael battled hard for three years and eight days, he fought with such courage and bravery. He never complained but often got upset, he just wanted to stay was all. Sadly Michael lost his battle on the 25th of October 2020.
Michael's MND started in his upper body starting with the right arm, moving then to the left. I truly urge anyone diagnosed with upper bulbar palsy, which starts in the upper body to avail of the iPad tablet smart box. It’s such a wonderful device and will certainly give you independence. It will help you to communicate in the case you lose your voice like Michael.
The IMNDA and all the other services were truly amazing. From the equipment provided to many appointments between Bantry and Marymount palliative care services. Our local health providers were always here to help at any time. There are just no words to thank you all, you provided such wonderful care and support.
In the final days, a night nurse was provided for me to rest, an angel is all I can say. I never thought we would but we did we forgive and loved. That was far more important than anything we had ever faced and we as a whole family made decisions together. Some very hard discussions were had, but love, loyalty and family prevailed over everything.
Michael and the boys along with many others, climbed Ireland's tallest mountain Carrauntoohil in the Kingdom of Kerry just last year raising €11,000 for the IMNDA. It was such an amazing accomplishment and achievement for Michael and just a month before he passed was awarded a silver pin award from the IMNDA because of his efforts. I also received one but due to spinal damage unfortunately was unable to climb. Although it was so heart-warming to be named The Dream Team, by Rosin Duffy CEO of the IMNDA, because in the end we really were. We spent nearly every moment together.
Times were extremely difficult but we as a family made all Michael's wishes come true. I just hope and pray daily that he could hear us all and will watch over us forever. Forever loved and missed. Michael will be in our thoughts and heart always. To home carers, just believe in your strength and you are capable of anything. Take time breathe and talk always."