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Connacht Tribune

Mystery illness that ruins lives

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Orla suffers from flu-like symptoms and chronic fatigue. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – After being treated for an infection 20 years ago, Orla Ní Chomraí expected to make to a normal recovery But she didn’t. Instead, she felt constantly tired and dizzy. Eventually she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition which is difficult to identify and which divides medics. But with some 15,000 people in Ireland affected, the costs are high. Orla has played a key role in new research that shows the personal. social and economic impact of CFS, as she explains to BERNIE NÍ FHLATHARTA.

Orla Ní Chomraí’s life changed when she got an infection 20 years ago that left her with a disabling and complex chronic disease known as ME. But that hasn’t stopped her being one of the lead researchers of a national study into the economic impact of this long-term illness. Its findings are being published this month to raise awareness of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Orla was just 23 years when she got sick after completing her MA in Dublin (following an arts and history degree at NUI Galway). Once her infection had been treated, she was looking forward to a recovery, but noticed that she was constantly dizzy and fatigued.

“It went on and on and I didn’t improve,” says Orla who recalls going from doctor to doctor to find answers and a cure. She changed doctors and was eventually diagnosed with ME. Although she vaguely knew what it was and, in fact, knew someone who had it, she still expected to recover.

“My best period was a year into it after being diagnosed. I had a bad relapse in 2005 but overall, I live with flu-like symptoms and am fatigued all the time. It affects my concentration, my memory and my sleep. It’s very disabling and so very restrictive. My social life and career came to a stop,” she says.

And though ME is quite a common illness it is much misunderstood and often dismissed by medics, many of whom say it’s psychosomatic.

In fact, many of the people who took part in three focus groups for the research project – run jointly NUIG and patients from the Irish ME/CFS Association – shared similar experiences of not being taken seriously or believed by their GPs, of doctors and nurses admitting to not knowing much about ME and, worse, being told they were lazy or looking for attention.

Participants in the study, which began before the pandemic when people could meet physically, said they were years – three on average – waiting to be diagnosed. Even after being diagnosed, they found it difficult to secure social welfare payments.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is poorly understood, and routine diagnostic tests and biomarkers are unavailable.

Until this latest study, there had been no data on the economic impact of ME/CFS in Ireland but the material now collated suggests that there is a wide range of costs. These include the wider societal costs in the form of the health service; lost productivity and the impact on informal carers; and the sufferers’ own personal loss of work or a career.

This research, carried out by Orla and her fellow lead researcher, Dr John Cullinan, Senior Lecturer of Economics in NUIG, will inform an ongoing programme that aims to quantify the economic burden of ME/CFS in Ireland and raise awareness of the illness among healthcare providers and policymakers.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Time and history conferred character on this home

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The Hermitage, Ballymoe: on the market with a €425,000 guide price.

The Hermitage at Lisnageeragh, Ballymoe is a property on which time and history has conferred a character that no new property could mirror.

Overlooking 16.3 acres of rolling green fields which are included in the sale, this is indeed a unique house and comes to market with charming well maintained stone buildings. These could provide further family accommodation, holiday rentals or craft studios.

The front hall has a beautiful, curved window and leads to two reception rooms on either side of the house. The sitting room has an open fireplace with a black cast iron surround and wooden floors which gleam from years of care and reflect the light coming from two large windows. To the right-hand side, the dining room also has an attractive bay window and an oil-fired stove and it is indeed the perfect social /entertaining space.

To the rear of the house the kitchen is a classic example of a successful marriage of the old and the new. Bespoke shaker style units combine perfectly with modern recessed lighting, attractive tiling and includes a pantry area to one side. A good-sized bedroom and adjacent bathroom complete the downstairs of the main house.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms one of which has an en suite shower. The main bedroom is a delightful space which leads to another small room, a perfect nursery or walk in wardrobe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

A time when we learned once more that no man is an island

Francis Farragher

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Country singer Dolly Parton getting the jab: she sang about it and part-funded research on the vaccine.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the oft-repeated pub jokes whenever the price drink was increased, whether it by Finance Ministers or publicans who felt that their margins were being whittled away, was that: “As long as it doesn’t get scarce, we’ll be happy enough.”

Who could have believed though in the first month or two of 2020 that this scenario would unfold (at least in pubs), where the opportunity to meet friends – and the odd ‘auld enemy’ too – over a couple of pints in the local bar would be snatched away from us?

We probably have learned to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and most of us will remember the real sense of fear and constriction that pervaded our every word and action early last year.

2020 was the universal version of ‘annus horribilis’ – the term made famous by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 when royal marriages started to collapse like cards houses in the breeze.

Being of rural stock, I loved the little video earlier this from country music icon, Dolly Parton, who adapted a verse of her famous Jolene song to mark her first shot of the Moderna vaccine (she also donated $1 million to its research) in a very sincere effort to try and encourage the general public to get inoculated.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

I’m begging of you not to hesitate,

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

Cause when you’re dead that’s a bit too late.”

A year before that, times were indeed very strange across Ireland and indeed the world. I remember on the Sunday night before St. Patrick’s Day when a sense of incredulity greeted the news in my own local that ‘a lot of the pubs in Galway city were closing down’. Surely, this couldn’t happen in our own little watering hole in the sticks, but it did.

Michael Karmen’s soundtrack from the Band of Brothers series – a wonder piece of music even to my untrained ear – will always remind me of that early Spring period of lockdown in 2020.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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€4.5m worth of property sold during online event

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This detached house at Seacrest in Knocknacarra attracted a "staggering" level of interest.

More than €4.5 million worth of sales were recorded at the O’Donnellan & Joyce auction last week, where 350 people had pre-registered to bid on the 40 properties which went under the hammer.

80% of the properties sold during the auction or following negotiations immediately afterwards.

Among the properties sold at the auction were:

106 Seacrest, Knocknacarra, Galway. Guiding at €250,000 due to the extent of renovation and upgrade works required, the auctioneers were staggered at the level of interest in this 4-bed detached house.

Siobhra Hennessy, Senior Auction Co-Ordinator, said: “There is an increasing demand for city centre homes in need of repair. Couples want to put their own stamp on a property and often look for properties similar to this.”

Bidding commenced at €250,000 but quickly rose to over €350,000. After intense bidding from a number of internet and telephone bidders, the sale price of €364,000 was reached and the deal was done.

192 Bohermore, Galway. A 2-bed terraced house which attracted great attention, with many enquiries and bidders pre-registering. The house needs complete restoration and modernisation works but obviously appealed to a wide audience. It guided at €120,000, but sold for €179,000, despite the great amount of work required. Again, this is an example of a near-derelict building that offered great potential.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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