Caring for each other: Padraic and Delia’s Story

This week, June 7th, is National Carers Week. Croí chatted with Padraic Costello, who shares his story with his wife, Delia. 

Padraic Costello and his wife, Delia, from Ballinrobe Co. Mayo, have been married for 45 years, with 5 children and 12 grandchildren. The couple have had to overcome many health challenges in the last couple of years, but Padraic remains optimistic, telling people to always “look at the glass half full”.

In 2013, Padraic was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but was treated immediately and made a great recovery. After, in 2016, Padraic was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and understandably, himself and Delia became worried. After returning home from a holiday to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in 2016, Delia began to complain of very bad headaches. Padraic brought her straight to the doctor, in which the doctor put it down to stress due to her husband’s illness. However, the pain never seemed to go away, and Delia began to get worse. Several weeks later, they discover that Delia was suffering a stroke and she was brought straight to Dublin for treatment.

IMG_8618

From that day on, Padraic stayed by Delia’s side and became her primary carer. “She was there for me, and now it’s my turn to care for her”, says Padraic. Padraic drove his camper-van to the hospital in Dublin, parked in the car park, and lived there for 3 weeks while Delia received treatment. Bringing Delia home was a big change for them both, but Padraic credits the support he received from his children, especially as he battled his own illness. Padraic made all the necessary adjustments to their house in preparation for Delia’s return.

Although Padraic was now caring for his wife, he still wanted to regain some normality. Padraic and Delia will regularly go for spins at the weekend and, being such a big fan of the matches himself, Padraic even brought Delia to Croagh Park to see Mayo vs. Dublin in the All Ireland! He says, “there’s a lot more planning and researching needed now whenever we want to do something, but it’s worth it to enjoy a bit of normality together”.

Padraic and Delia regularly attend Croí’s Stroke Support Groups, which welcome both stroke survivors and their family members and carers. This week is National Carers Week and Croí wants to raise awareness about the amazing work carers do. Padraic has a message for carers, particularly those looking after loved ones, “I am grateful to be as good as I am today, but of course, there are bad days. But everybody has bad days. You just can’t let the bad days take over the good days”.

To learn more or join Croí’s Stroke Support Group, visit our stroke webpage, or email healthteam@croi.ie.

Stroke of Genius

Introducing our new series, “Stroke of Genius”.

We value people’s lived-experience as well as professional input and consider it all part of the education and support for people who have had a stroke. Croí’s support groups for stroke survivors and their families are a source of great learning and we want to share this in our new series, “Stroke of Genius”. Kudos to our Mayo members for the great name suggestion!

Check out the images below to read our ‘Stroke of Genius’ series.

The Croí Galway and Mayo Stroke Support Groups are now meeting virtually, and new members are always warmly welcomed. Please call us on 091-544310 for further information.

2018 World Stroke Day

In recognition of 2018 World Stroke Day, we held a lovely tea party for our Stroke Yoga participants, Stroke Support Group and Stroke Communication Group. Thank you to everyone who attended and shared words of advice to help other survivors get #UpAgainAfterStroke.

Monica, a member of the Croí Stroke Support Group.

Monica’s husband Pat suffered a stroke on April Fool’s Day, 2014. “He has plenty jokes about that,” says Monica of her husband of 48 years.

“It was very difficult in the beginning after the stroke, but Pat was so determined. He had such a good attitude, but often took risks and that scared me. I was trying to keep him safe, but he was so used to his independence.”

Pat was told he wouldn’t be able to walk after the stroke, but following relentless therapy sessions, Pat got back on his feet and is doing really well. “While he was hospitalised, I would go for my daily visit after his physiotherapy session, and discover he had gone for a second session, sometimes a third!” says Monica.

Monica and Pat are members of the Croí Stroke Support Group, who meet every month at Croí House to chat and offer support to one another. “The group meetings are fantastic for both of us, for different reasons. Pat connects with other stroke survivors, learns from them, and offers advice from his experience. As well as the group meetings, Croí also arrange support meetings for the carers, or loved ones of stroke survivors, where we can chat about difficulties we encounter without upsetting our loved ones. The whole group also have different get-togethers outside of Croí, such as coffee mornings, craft sessions, knitting, etc., the main purpose being to chat… about anything other than stroke!” says Monica.

I meet with fellow stroke carers and we chat, knit or go for coffee, and Pat connects with other stroke survivors to learn from them and offer advice.”

Pat and Monica also took part in Croí programmes, including Croí MyAction, an intensive programme focused on healthy lifestyle changes. “We did everything together, and I found the programmes really helped me too! I needed to be well to be able to help him,” says Monica.

Pat and Monica’s words of advice for #WorldStrokeDay are that there is life after stroke. Every stroke is different, but it’s amazing what goals can be reached. Try reaching the best according to yourself to get #UpAgainAfterStroke.

Paddy, practicing yoga at Croí House.

Paddy suffered a stroke three and a half years ago, and since then has been very involved with the work and activities at Croí House. “It really changed my life. I come to Croí every Wednesday for the stroke survivor’s yoga class, and then every month for the support group. I can link with people who understand, and I feel comfortable in their company,” says Paddy.

Paddy’s recovery from stroke was not smooth. One year after his stroke, Paddy ended up in intensive care after an operation to remove a cancerous tumour. The operation almost re-activated his previous stroke symptoms and Paddy had to relearn how to walk again. “I worked hard to get back to where I am today. My mission is that I can walk into a room and no one would ever know I’ve had a stroke.”

Paddy is a regular at the Croí stroke yoga sessions, where Vicky Harkin volunteers her time as the stroke yoga instructor. “Vicky was born for this job. She’s the most enthusiastic person.” Vicky’s stroke survivor yoga classes are very popular and numbers have grown to over 30 per class.

Paddy’s words of wisdom for #WorldStrokeDay are to get involved with a network, like the Croí Stroke Support Group. There are facilities available. Even activities like going to the library or for a walk are forms of self-therapy. Get out and meet people – it will help you get #UpAgainAfterStroke.

  • Gerry, a stroke survivor from Co. Clare: “A positive attitude, watch your diet and regular exercise will help you get #UpAgainAfterStroke. Croí has been a great support for me and my family. ”
  • Christina, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Keep positive, keep busy and stay motivated. Plenty of physio / hydrotherapy and yoga will help you get #UpAgainAfterStroke. I found Croí’s neck exercises and meditation very good.”
  • Margaret, a stroke survivor: “Yoga and exercise classed will help you get #UpAgainAfterStroke.”
  • Frank, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Keep active if you can. Croí is a great facility. It helped me with yoga and having human contact helped with my recovery. Support is always needed.”
  • Delia, a stroke survivor from Mayo: “Plan your day with goals. Exercise and rest is so important. Croí has helped me physically, mentally and socially. I look forward to having more services in Ballinrobe, Mayo.”
  • Brian, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Do what you are told from the start. Croí yoga classes helped me get #UpAgainAfterStroke.”
  • Gwen, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Keep going. Croí has been just wonderful for my recovery.”
  • Eithne, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Get up, get dressed and go out.”
  • Andy, a stroke survivor from Galway: “Get up and
    about and be social. Croí’s exercise and yoga classes
    helped me get #UpAgainAfterStroke.”

Thank you everyone who shared their story for World Stroke Day.

The Croí Stroke Support Group meet at Croí House on the second Thursday of every month and new members are always warmly welcomed. Please call Jessica on 091 544310 for further information.