My husband and I have been together for 23 years and didn’t spend a day apart from each other until February 4, 2020. Now, it’s been over two years since Charles had a stroke that night.
We were having our usual conversation in the sitting room and everything was fine when I went to bed. Then about two in the morning Charles started calling my name and I found him crawling on the sitting-room floor. He couldn’t move one of his arms and the right side of his face dropped.
Knowing it was a stroke, she took him in an ambulance and took him to Mullingar Hospital. The chancellor said he didn’t know if Charles would survive and it broke my heart – being together for so long and then seeing him like that.
But after three long days in intensive care, followed by several long months of recovery in hospital, his speech is back but life is different now. Suffers from a language disorder, aphasia. He cannot walk and his right hand and right arm are not working.
Unfortunately, our problems didn’t end there and my husband wasn’t home yet – more than 15 months after he was released from the hospital. Charles was living in a nursing home because he wouldn’t be able to come to our rented house because it was completely unsuitable for him and his needs now.
We have sent letters to the local authority in search of a suitable home that will meet my husband’s needs and give us as close as possible to a normal family life again.
Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and a medical social worker also sent letters to the board on our behalf. The only response they got was that the local authority did not have suitable homes in stock.
It is completely unacceptable that there are such gaps in the availability of housing for people with disabilities. Nobody knows when that will happen. With a flick of your fingers, you can be healthy one minute, and then the next minute you can have a stroke.
The moment this occurs, there should be housing available at all times or specially designed facilities for a period of time for rehabilitation. It is important to make these changes so that if this happens to another family they will not end up in this situation.
Michelle and her husband Charles together
It is heartbreaking that he is not at home with myself and our four children. It’s a 90-minute round trip to the nursing home to see him. I don’t have a car, so if no one is available to board, a taxi can cost as much as 75€ each way.
We video call him every night where the kids say good night to him but it’s different. Your 17-year-old always says “I wish Dad was home”.
Our youngest has just started high school and the oldest is starting our college and Charles Lee said, “I should have been there for it. I should have been there for all my kids.” He said he feels like he’s in prison and all he can do is look out the window all day. not fair. Nobody has to go through it.
Charles also loses proper recovery from the stroke. There is support for him when he returns home such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, but since he is in a nursing home his recovery has completely stalled because they are not equipped to deal with his condition.
Charles loved to walk before his stroke and now uses a wheelchair. He is dying to walk again and not be dependent on a wheelchair anymore.
Fortunately, over the past few weeks, HSE arranged for him to go to Mullingar and get physical therapy. He’s happy to do it himself because he just wants to get out and go back to his family. But we don’t know when that will happen.
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All I want is for my husband to come home and start living a normal life again as expected given his condition – to live a normal family life again. Their dad is a huge part of our kids’ lives and it’s like losing a big piece of their jigsaw now.
Michelle Murray is a mother of four who lives in Athlone. Her husband Charles had a stroke in 2020 and has been living in a nursing home since he was released from hospital.
no interrogation room
Across Ireland, more than 2,800 people with disabilities still live in group settings and more than 1,300 people under the age of 65 live in nursing homes.
The noteworthy investigative team wants to conduct an in-depth investigation into the housing crisis faced by persons with disabilities and interview persons with disabilities who live in inadequate housing.
Here’s how to help support this suggestion>