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Dealing with the aftermath of spinal injury

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Trevor Martin was a fit and healthy early retiree enjoying a round of golf when his life was changed forever.

It was the August bank holiday weekend in 2014 and the 57-year-old former regional brewery manager went off in search of a lost ball.

Unfortunately he fell into a dyke and landed on his back onto a stony patch of ground.

It was clear immediately that his injuries were catastrophic.

His central spinal cord was crushed and for three days he was a quadriplegic, unable to move any part of his body.

Trevor, from Corofin, was airlifted to University Hospital Galway but then had to be transferred by road ambulance to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin for an MRI, as the machine in UHG was not being operated over the weekend.

“I had to be intubated to be sent in the ambulance. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it. I said my goodbyes to my wife,” he recalled this week.

While doctors waited for the swelling on the spinal cord to reduce, he was sent back to Merlin Park Hospital, where he remained for two months to recuperate.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Aiden Devitt decided an operation to relieve the pressure on his spine was his best option.

A specialist spinal team to monitor the spinal cord during surgery was drafted in for the nine-hour operation. A month later, he began a difficult eight-week stint in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, for which he was on a waiting list for nearly six months.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic place – I can’t say enough about them. It’s like going to school – you have the whole week laid out for you – physio, hydrotherapy, gym work. Thank God I’m one of the lucky ones. I learned how to walk again.”

Trevor refused to let his boys – aged twelve and eleven – see him until after the rehabilitation.

“They didn’t see me for eight weeks. There were all sorts of rumours that daddy wouldn’t walk again. When they saw me I was standing on my own. I could walk but with a stick. It was marvellous.”

The damage has left his right leg feeling like he is constantly wearing a wet suit. His fine motor skills are now poor, as the messages to and from his brain are not getting through properly.

“It’s a life sentence. People go to jail for a life sentence but they get remission – we don’t,” he reflected.

“Everything is affected. I’ve difficulty buttoning a shirt, trying to zip a jacket, opening a carton of milk, trying to read a newspaper is impossible as I can’t separate the page. It’s very awkward. Everything feels different.”

“The boys have had to adjust – dad can’t go around playing ball – they now have to mind daddy. My wife Yvonne is my best carer. She’s absolutely fantastic. I don’t know how she’s managing it.”

While Trevor has huge praise for his consultant and the team in Dún Laoghaire, he is critical of the lack of supports for patients with spinal cord injuries. Essentially, they are discharged and left to their own devices.

The odd physio appointment is arranged and he has had one visit by an occupational therapist to assess his home situation.

He has had to seek counselling to deal with the emotional outfall of the accident.

“I did get into a black hole. You sort of say to yourself: ‘you stupid eejit. All this for a feckin’ €2 golf ball’. I have good days and bad days but overall I’m in good form.”

He believes there is a real need for a regional rehabilitation centre, where the 88 patients in Galway with a spinal cord injury could go for specialised physiotherapy and additional therapies.

“Over 40% of us are on the breadline because we can’t work. We’re not entitled to job training – we’re literally ignored.”

Spinal Injuries Ireland kicked-started their nationwide awareness programme – This Is My Life – in the Galway Bay Hotel this week to highlight the key issues facing those living with the condition.

“Our awareness programme is reaching out to those living with a spinal cord injury, their families, friends and health services professionals so that we can build a community which will influence change and improve supports and services,” according to Sorcha Silke, Galway Community Outreach Officer for Spinal Injuries Ireland.

“It is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as one of the most devastating and life changing injuries that a person can sustain.”

For further information on the “This is My Life” Awareness Programme and on support services available to those with an SCI, log onto spinalinjuries.ie

CITY TRIBUNE

Council official: Galway needs to identify site for new airport

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A senior County Council official has said Galway needs to identify a site for a new airport – with a runway big enough to accommodate passenger jets from the likes of Ryanair.

At a meeting of the county’s local authority this week, Director of Services Liam Hanrahan said he would be willing to discuss the matter with his counterparts in the City Council – the local authorities jointly own the existing airport in Carnmore.

Department of Defence lands in Renmore were flagged at the meeting as being a potential site – the runway in Carnmore is not big enough to accommodate large passenger jets and is regarded by airlines as being unviable as a result.

The matter was discussed as county councillors gave their support for a portion of Carnmore airport to be leased to a film company.

The two councils were urged to make a concerted effort to identify a location for a new airport that can take jets and the lands owned by the Department of Defence in Renmore were mentioned.

Meanwhile, members of the County Council received assurances that there would be no threat to Galway Flying Club using the facility at Carnmore as they have been doing for many years.

There were suggestions that Danú Media, which has requested the use of two hangars at the airport, were anxious that the leasing arrangement with Galway Flying Club be terminated because of noise interference.

But Director of Services Liam Hanrahan categorically stated that Danú Media had applied for the lease of two hangars at the former airport but they were not in a position to dictate what happens the rest of the 115-acre site.

He also explained that when the two councils purchase the lands in 2014, they did so as an investment site and not as a commercial airport.

However, Mr Hanrahan was very supportive of the suggestion that an alternative location be identified for an airport that could accommodate passenger jets from the likes of Ryanair and it would be something that he would discuss with the City Council.

The use of the Galway Airport site, and particularly the hangars, has been described as an economic opportunity for the audio-visual, TV and film sectors in Galway.

While councillors supported the proposal to lease the two hangars and former airport fire station to Danú Media, the vast majority expressed disappointment that there was no overall masterplan for the whole site.

Earlier this month, Galway City Council members approved the leasing arrangement with the film-making company and County Council members this week felt that they were ‘an afterthought’ and their only function was to ‘rubber stamp’ the city’s decision.

Mr Hanrahan advised councillors that the City Council meet earlier in the month and assured members that there was nothing sinister.

Oranmore’s Cllr Liam Carroll said that if planning permission was granted to Danú Media, it would put Galway on the map in terms of film-making.

The airport lease agreement would generate more than €700,000 in rental income over a 20-year period.

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile for sentencing after arrest in Ceannt Station

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A man will be sentenced in December for arranging to meet a child at Ceannt Station for the purpose of sexual assault.

In the meantime, Michael Sheridan, from Cormeelick South, Milltown, must not attempt to use the internet or any other means of communication to contact any child, as set down in conditions attached to his bail.

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last Friday week to attempting to communicate with a child by means of information and communication technology within the State, for the purposes of facilitating the sexual exploitation of the child on dates between March 20 and May 26, 2018, contrary to Common Law and Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to meet the child on May 27, 2018, at Ceannt Railway Station in Eyre Square, having communicated by any means with the child, and did so on at least a previous occasion, and did so for the purpose of doing something that would constitute the sexual exploitation of the child, namely sexual assault of the child, contrary to Common Law.  The sex of the child referred to in the charges was not revealed in court.

In reply to Judge Rory McCabe, prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke said there was no need to order a victim impact statement prior to sentence taking place as there was no victim ‘in the real sense’ in the case.

By consent with Bernard Madden SC, defending, sentence was adjourned to December 15 next, when the prosecution will outline the facts in the case against Sheridan.

His free legal aid certificate was extended to cover the cost of a medical report for mitigation purposes.

Judge McCabe also directed the preparation of a probation report at Mr Madden’s request and remanded Sheridan on continuing bail with the existing conditions attached to appear back before the court in December for sentence.

Bail was initially granted in the District Court on condition Sheridan surrender his passport and not apply for a new one or any other travel documents; sign on twice a week at Tuam Garda Station; provide a mobile phone number to Gardai and answer his phone to Gardaí at all times; undertake to the court not to make any contact with any child by any means, to include social media; and not to access the internet at any stage pending completion of the case.

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Connacht Tribune

Final outing for Your County, Your Colours – to honour an old colleague

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It was a simple idea well executed – to deliver 32 GAA county jerseys to frontline workers in a hospital or care home in thanks for their dedication during Covid – but before the dust settled on Your County, Your Colours, there was one final and very special delivery to be made.

It is now nine years since a completely unprovoked attack left Tuam man Shane Grogan with life-changing injuries that mean he still requires round-the-clock medical care today.

Before that vicious assault, Shane was a popular member of staff with Merit Medical – who just happened to be the sponsors of the Your County, Your Colours project, dreamt up by Galway Bay FM commentator and former Galway footballer, Tommy Devane.

The team at Merit had one final request – to deliver a special, framed Galway jersey to Shane and the staff at Greenpark Nursing Home, where Shane has lived for some time.

Karen Smyth, Communications Leader with Merit Medical, said that the staff at Merit Medical had never forgotten Shane.

“We see Your County, Your Colours as a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the frontline workers in Greenpark,” she said.

“This is just a small token of appreciation of their efforts; they do an amazing job – not just during the pandemic but every day,” she added.

Shane’s dad Joe relayed his thanks to Merit Medical for this presentation – with a special word to the Accounts Department, where Shane worked prior to his accident.

“They have always kept Shane foremost in their thoughts and hopefully, the visits will start again soon!” he said.

The original idea, as envisaged by Tommy Devane, was to honour the tireless efforts of frontline workers across the country during the pandemic.

So he has asked all 32 counties to supply one county jersey accompanied by a short message of thanks. The jersey along with their message was then framed and sent to the hospital or care setting of the county’s choice.

Greenpark Nursing Home Director of Nursing Brian McNamara thanked Merit Medical and Tommy Devane for what he called this wonderful gift.

“We are honoured to have been thought of in this manner and it is our privilege to look after Merit’s colleague Shane Grogan,” he said.

“In our caring for Shane, there will always be a special bond between Merit Medical and Greenpark Nursing Home,” he added.

(Photo: Shane Grogan (centre) with his parents Joe and Joan behind him, accepting his signed Galway jersey, joined by (from left) the McNamara family – Jane, Cora, Director of Nursing Brian and Ian – of Greenpark Nursing Home; Shane’s physical therapist Johnathan Gibson, Merit Medical’s Karen Smyth and Mark Butler, and Tommy Devane, organiser of Your County, Your Colours).

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