We were halfway to Dublin. We were focused on what tests were to be carried out and which tests would require another appointment or even a stay over.
We were in our own little bubble worrying about our son and his medical needs.
The phone rang. I tried to answer it but the reception dropped.
I checked the caller ID and could see that it was our friend S . My belly flipped as I knew she was away at a wedding. She wasn’t even in the country.
“Why she’s ringing, I hope everything is ok ” I worried aloud as we entered Dublin city.
“I am sure she’s fine. She’s probably ringing you to tell you something funny, she probably remembered she wasn’t in Ireland and hung up!” D laughed.
I smiled but didn’t think she would be ringing me at all from a foreign country for any reason other than a bad one.
She rang again.
What she had to say was something which I would never have had imagined.
Our friend R, was currently being transported from Galway Hospital to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin ,with a suspected bleed on the brain. That is all she knew.
She begged me to *‘WhatsApp’ her as soon as I knew anymore while she cursed herself for being away.
S and R are childhood friends . They have the kind of friendship that comes once in a lifetime and one that lasts a lifetime.
She was heartbroken .
I hung up.
Immediately I was transported back to the phone call we got to tell us our friend P had passed away suddenly. I took a deep breath and gently explained to D what I had just been told.
We got into Temple Street hospital with Ethan but now we had more than our usual doctor questions floating through our minds.
After Ethan had finished his appointments we gently asked the consultant about bleeds on the brain.
We explained what we were told.
She shook her head and reminded us that she was not an expert but that a bleed on the brain can cause permanent damage or even death. She assured us Beaumont was the best place R could be in.
We were quiet as we drove to Beaumont hospital with the hopes of getting an update.
I waited in the car with Ethan as D ran into the hospital . There was no way Ethan was going into another hospital and I can’t say I blamed him.
D was about 20 minutes. He was white with what I imagine was shock, when he made his way back to the car.
“He’s in surgery. They don’t know what the outcome will be” he started the engine as I sat in silence picturing our life of the party, larger than life friend R, laying on the operating table.
“He will be fine” I finally whispered.
D nodded as we drove the long silent road back to Galway.
It was hours before we heard news about R from his Daddy, V..
R had come out of surgery, which went well but time would tell about how well it went.
Let me tell you a little about R ; he’s a scholar, he’s a nerd, he’s a photographer,he is loud , funny, charming , friendly warm with a dollop of bitchy when needed. He is the friend that shows up to your kids birthday parties despite not having kids of his own.
He has nicknames on our boys and they love to see him coming. He has never been afraid to help out especially when it comes to Ethan. He isn’t afraid to visit Ethan and us especially when we are going through a tough time ; he doesn’t hide away from the ‘hard’ bits to being our friend and for that I love him.
He truly is a good guy.
Three days passed.
I had never been so excited to see R is typing… flashing up while I was on ‘Whatsapp’.
His first few messages made little to no sense and I worried. We all worried.
Was R going to have a disability and if so , how would we help him accept it ..how would he cope …how much of him would change…the worries were endless.
He was soon transported back to Galway hospital to finish his recovery there.
His messages become more frequent and much more clear.
I could feel the hope rising in my heart ; R was back.
R was just 40 when he had , what we now know was a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage.
R was very very lucky.
R is back to himself but has changed his life style and dropped the huge amounts of work he had taken on.
R recently asked me to share an awareness and fundraising event called ‘Sunrise Up Croagh Patrick’ .
I asked R what ‘Sunrise Up Croagh Patrick’ meant to him and in his own words he replied the with the following :
Unfortunately, 800,000 people in Ireland are living with a neurological condition. Many of them will not have the second chance I received. So, working with the amazing teams of Sunrise Up Croagh Patrick is the absolute minimum I could do, and I am delighted to have the chance to pay back some of the kind deeds by countless people who worked tirelessly in ensuring I will exit my traumatic event.
“Sunrise Up Croagh Patrick” is an annual get-together of friends who climb Croagh Patrick, have a super time & raise funds for worthwhile charities fighting Neurological Diseases.
It was initially organised by John Kelly and supported by his University classmates and work colleagues from Hanson Regan. The event has grown and attracted wider support from many great people who have been affected by Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron Disease & Dementia.
Their annual event, on June 30th, features a fun climb of Croagh Patrick, coupled with drinks and cracid in the Westport Plaza Hotel
The awareness created by such an event, couples with money raised for some amazing charities whom also work tirelessly in assisting many people with Neurological Diseases; such as Nationwide branch of the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, Huntington’s Disease Ireland & the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.
R is trying to give back and I too want to help spread awareness as not only have these people supported R in his recovery but they have given us back our friend .
We are eternally grateful and are all too aware how things could have been very different for R and how things are very different for many people with brain injuries.
You can find more details and stories over on Sunrise Up Croagh Patrick website
*‘WhatsApp’ is a free online messaging service