Malachy’s story

When I first heard about the Croí 'My Action Programme' . I threw my eyes to heaven. The Consultant from the stroke unit at UCHG recommended that I should do this. "Yeah right" , I thought; "not for me". I had been admitted to UCHG following a mini- stroke. I have always believed that I was immortal;that nothing could kill me. I ate what I liked, drank what I liked; I had no real exercise in my daily routine; I was a smoker and I failed to deal with stress in my life. I had an early warning sign about my blood pressure in early 2015 during a pre-employment medical. The doctor told me that my blood pressure was unacceptably high. So I googled this underlying, serious problem. I ignored medical advice as I am after all, immortal.

I had what was termed a 'mini-stroke' on 6th July. 2015. I had gone to the smoking area at work that evening at about 6pm. I had had a very stressful experience at around 4.30p.m. As I left the smoking area to return to my desk, I smiled to myself; "You were getting worked up about nothing, Mal; nothing at all". It was then that I found I had a strange sensation on my upper lip. It was as if I had eaten spicy food and had a remnant of cayenne pepper on my tongue. I remember thinking; "I didn't eat anything spicy today – just the usual normal sausage and chips in a bap with coffee and three sugars…what's that all about?". I sat back at my desk and as I began to use the mouse for my PC I found that I had pins and needles in my right hand; the right side of my face felt warm and tingly; an hour later my foot was tingling and my entire right side was becoming numb. It's like that feeling when you wake up after having slept on your arm and the feeling is coming back slowly. I knew that I had a left brain vascular event. But I am immortal.

I remember going to evening break, knowing there was something wrong with me, the whole right side of my body was tingling with pins and needles. I remember, over a toasted cheese sandwich telling Mary Higgins about my experience. I remember the expression on her face as I told her. "You need to go to casualty, Mal". I laughed and said "Well I had better phone Maura and get her to lay out my best suit!" She said; "Well you'll only need the jacket" -Why? "Well you might be going someplace hot!" Well it was one of the best laughs I ever had!! So I finished my sweet coffee and biscuits and drove home. Maura drove me to casualty at UCH Galway.

I spent around a day on a trolley, reading Walter Macken's 'The Silent People'. ' I was comfortable enough to be honest and Maura brought me in a Chinese takeaway. I fell into the most blissful sleep in the middle of reading Walter Macken's 'The Silent People'. They woke me next morning in the corridor; I was still on a trolley; for the life of me I cannot distinguish the difference between a hospital trolley and a hospital bed. They examined me and told me that I had experienced a mild stroke. I remember Maura asking me as I lay in my hospital bed:

-Are you not worried Mal?
-But I feel grand!
– I mean about your health?
-No, not really; I think I'm probably immortal
– Oh for goodness sake! (eyes to heaven moment)

To cut a very long story very short I was sent home with a cocktail of drugs and I became increasingly paranoid about my health. I was re-admitted to hospital in Sept 15 with a suspect heart condition. It was a false alarm. It was during this period that Croí called me and I was having too good a time in hospital; I enjoyed it immensely. I told them to call back later.

I remember being a 'public' patient and in a hospital bed across from someone paying thousands a year in private health insurance. We received exactly the same excellent care. I had paid thousands upon thousands myself as an employee for years upon years before I let it go. This story is getting longer as all life-stories do.

The Consultant wagged his head at me again and advised me to go on the Croí action programme. Croí called me again and, eyes raised to heaven again, this time I decided to go along with it. Well it was like being woken up from a long sleep! My beloved decided she would come along with me.

Therese did my blood tests; Denise assessed our BMI; Rachel assessed our dietary habits. These Three Musketeers changed my life. Eyes to heaven because they are angels! Maura came with me for support. Maura had a more serious stroke about 2014. We came alive in Croí!

I learned from Denise about the dynamics of exercise; from Therese about medicine, blood-pressure and cholesterol and from Rachel about food labeling and healthy eating! Therese is at the heart of Croi; she is so professional! She cares and is so kind, even when taking bloods! Denise is simply gas; I have never seen anyone hop like her as she says: "OK now lets's do 'Batman', and the sweat is dripping off us already! And then quiet Rachel begins to speak as we mop our brows and Rachel opens our eyes to food labelling. Maura said:

-"Food Labelling; I'm not going to that class!".

It was the food labelling class that was extraordinary.

My life has been changed. I exercise more, I get thrown out of supermarkets at closing time for spending too much time reading labels.

These Three Musketeers changed my life! Go Therese, Denise and Rachel. Well done to Croi in Galway!

More info on Croi MyAction at the following link: http://bit.ly/2d5VcG8