Gerard and Joanna O’Hare’s story

Gerard: My name is Gerard O’Hare, I’m 52 years of age and I suffer from Motor Neurone Disease. It was a hard time adjusting. It took a wee while for me to get my head around it. But after a while I just take it one day at a time and that’s the way it’s been ever since for me. I don’t know about my wife, but, it hasn’t been easy for the both of us. The early stages weren’t too bad because I was still able to walk about. These last couple of years I’m very dependent on everybody. I can do nothing for myself. That’s hard.

Joanna: We got a phone call from an MND nurse who I didn’t even know existed. So she came along she talked about the, obviously, the diagnosis, what it meant to Gerard, what it meant to his body. But then she said to us, but we will be able to get occupational therapists out to help you, we’ll get physio, you’ll be assigned a social worker. I only thought social workers went to, you know, families, maybe if they needed help, families in crisis, I didn’t know it was maybe with somebody who had an illness and it was through her, just coming out and chatting and asking how we were mentally, do we need any extra help financially. And it was her that actually suggested to Gerard, just for a break to get out of the house, you know, about coming to day therapies in hospice.

Gerard: I have been coming ever since to the day therapy, which was brilliant, I loved coming, every Wednesday, Marie Curie, loved it. It’s been a life saver for me, for the both of us. Definitely, they have helped us out so much along our journey, from me, down to money problems, down to taking the pressure off Joanna.

Joanna: They have become a family to me because I know I can come in here and I know that Gerard is 100% cared for and he’s so safe in this place. I know the first time obviously Gerard had come to the day therapies it was a different environment than being around in the ward. And obviously he was very poorly at that time, and we really didn’t think that he was going to last a month, surprisingly he has. It’s probably down to good care as well. And a brother of mine wanted to come to visit Gerard in the hospice and because I was used to coming to day therapies and you know the faces and you hear the laughter, but my brother was so scared to come because he just thought it’s going to be so sad. And I said, look it’s not like that, yes there is sadness there in every room, there’s somebody maybe passing away but there is people in for respite so, you know, there are different things going on and I says, look come over it’s fine. And, reluctantly, he came over, he wanted to see, Gerard, but he was afraid to come. He was just, he says he felt relief, coming down, seeing smiling faces.

Gerard: Everybody in life gets a knock one way or the other, depends it’s early or late. Just take one day at a time, I don’t know where that comes from but that’s my philosophy on it. Just take every day as it comes, one day at a time, and enjoy life as much as you possibly can.