Kitty O Donoughue’s Story

Kitty’s Story



My husband had diabetes for forty four years. His complaint was known to flocculate

Meaning his blood sugars could be very high or too low at any time during the day or night. He worked for fifty years in the same job and had a wonderful retirement. The staff organised a surprise party for him and his family. My problem was to keep the secret from him but to get him to the hotel in time which I did.They had organised a beautiful cake that told his life story of the different departments which he worked in.

Three years after his retirement he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

To improve his blood sugar control he was admitted to hospital to change his insulin dose from two injections a day to four per day. As he was in a five day ward he was sent home on Friday his dosage of insulin was not properly regulated and he was feeling horrible. But there was no bed for him to stay in hospital so he was discharged home.

On Sunday morning he collapsed at home in the kitchen with an insulin hypo. He injured his legs and ribs rather badly and had to be taken to hospital again by ambulance for x-rays etc. he was kept in over night in great pain even with morpheme as a strong dose he was not able to move.

He was sent home next day very stiff and still in great pain.

He spent the next four weeks in bed; he could not lift his head off the pillow not to mention the rest of his body. He had badly bruised ribs and very swollen legs.

It was only then the district nurse came into the picture. She was helpful to provide a commode and a Zimmer frame to help him stand but that was it, no more help get on with it; you were on your own again.

Weeks later when he had learned to walk again around the bedroom and landing his legs were still very swollen, but his GP said they would improve when he was able to take gentle exercise so when he tried a short walks he developed an ulcer on his left foot he was immediately put on antibiotics and stronger pain killers.

After attending podiatry for dressings etc. he got MRSA hospital bug on the wound.

Two years later he was set up for an amputation as they could not heal the ulcer.

I questioned how they were going to heal the wound after the amputation, and I was told with a shrug of the shoulder that was the chance they had to take

I did not allow the operation to go ahead as I wanted to try alternative medicine homeopathy first, I requested that podiatry would continue dressing his foot and record any progress etc, which they did thankfully.

Within three weeks they saw an improvement. After nine months the homeopathy treatment had healed the ulcer. All this suffering my dear husband went through could be avoided if proper care was taken on the first trip into hospital. I could write a book on experiences but this is enough for now.

He also had a frozen shoulder this started about three years before his retirement he

had many treatments and lots of physiotherapy for it over the years but nothing worked.

He was also visually impaired; He had several haemorrhages at the back of his eyes.

He had a detached retina on one occasion which thankfully they did an operation and he got about seventy percent of his sight back in that eye.

John was a very good humoured person he always had a new joke to cheer you up.

He was loving and kind and always put everyone else before himself. He loved a singsong and would be the life and soul of a party, never depressed or grumpy

I continued to care for him for many years after this until the last 3 months of his life.

He was put on stronger drugs for the pain in his shoulder which took the power from his body and made him very weak and wobbly. I did not know that these drugs had some antidepressants in them.


Seven days later his kidneys stopped.  As it was the Easter bank holiday weekend our GP was gone on holidays for two weeks so I phoned our GP’s locum and requested a house call I waited all day no doctor called.

I phoned again and this time I spoke to the locum Dr. and she told me to try a line of treatment that would get his kidneys going which I did, but this did not work

It was now after hours so I phoned South Doc. And he was taken to CUH as his kidneys were stopped for 34 hours at this stage and he was feeling very poorly. I was very worried now as I spoke to a family friend a nurse and she told me he could get toxic poising as a result of taking all his tablets 28 of them at that time, and not able to take food or drinks.

He had some x-rays and his kidneys were cleared that night at A and E.

But I am so angry with the CUH doctor who treated him for the last three months of his life

Now CUH take over, he was under Professor Horgan and team. Sometime during this week his pain drug was doubled in strength  and he was also put on an Antidepressant tablet called LUSTEROL because he had Parkinson’s it was assumed he was depressed as most Parkinson patient are, so we are told. So antidepressant’s was the line of treatment in their book. This was the ruination of his life as he had an adverse reaction to these tablets. They turned him into a concrete block. Every time John was given these drugs he suffered this locked in syndrome caused by the drug. He became double incontinent  I begged them several times to stop giving them to him but they would not listen to me.

They told me it would take four to six weeks  for him to adjust to the treatment.

But I told them at the rate he was loosing weight he would be dead by then.

And unfortunately I was right.

I did take him off the antidepressants several times and he would come around after three days, But when my back was turned he would be put back on them again.

Later I found out it was the pain killer come antidepressants drugs that stopped his kidneys. His kidneys stopped a second time while he was in hospital.

My son did research on these drugs and kidney failure was one of the common side affect.

On entering CUH on the 18th of april2011 john was 12 stone in weight and by 27th of May2011 he had lost 4 stone in one month and 9 days.

After 6 weeks of torture I insisted on taking him home. John was sent home by Ambulance he was incubating pneumonia but I was not told this. The next day I had our GP in, He was shocked when he saw him. He ordered an antibiotic for what sounded like a chest infection he also put him on a very low dose of mild antidepressant.

I cared for john for 3 weeks with help at home until he got too ill and needed suction and oxygen etc. also sliding scale for his diabetes these treatments could not be administered at home.

John back in CUH again. Our GP gave a printed litter for the hospital Doctors explaining the change in his tablets. Our GP also discussed the change with Professor Horgan his consultant. THIS LETTER WAS NEVER RED   As John was now having difficulty with his swallow an NG tube was inserted so he could get liquid food etc. but of course his tablets were being crushed and fed through this tube as well.

I questioned the nurses what tablets were written up for John. To my HORROR LUSTERSL was one of them. I asked the nurse not to give the LUSTEROL and thankfully she didn’t give it. She also said she would tell the rest of the nurses as well. John was still very ill but he was able to talk etc at least he new we were with him all the time.

About three days late on arriving in to see John I discovered that he was very drowsy no response just sleeping. I called the nurse and I asked was that LUSTEROL tablet given to him and she checked his chart and said yes that a foreign nurse was on duty that morning and it was still charted for him so she gave it.

Now I wanted to kill someone I demanded to see the doctor that charted up his tablets. She tried to argue that I was going over old ground but I told her she was the one stuck in the rut. I asked did she read the GP letter explaining the change to his tablets and had she told the consultant that John was back in hospital her reply to that was no but why didn’t the GP phone her about this, I said he printed a letter that came in with him in the ambulance. But what was the point you failed to do your job. I phoned our GP and he was furious. He phoned that Dr. the next morning she apologized profusely to him, but she never apologized to me. As it was July she was moving on that day. I never saw her again. John was never able to talk again after that day. Nine days later sadly he died. It was sad to see him die locked in his body as a result of that drug and that terrible mistake the doctor made not reading the GP’s letter.


Mary McDonnell featured in Examiner

Former carer of the year sees ‘100% cut to respite’ care for her daughter

Family Carer Ireland (Cork Branch) member Mary McDonnell was featured in the Irish Examiner on 22nd February 2016.

A former carer of the year, who has looked after her daughter for more than 50 years, has had her regular respite care pulled — while 14 other families have been similarly affected.

Mary McDonnell, 78, from Douglas in Cork, said she had suffered a “100% cut to my respite”, following notification from Cheshire Ireland that her daughter, Sinéad, could no longer be facilitated at its St Laurence centre on the outskirts of Cork City.

Sinéad has profound cerebral palsy, is doubly incontinent, has scoliosis, and has suffered a dislocated hip. She has been attending St Laurence’s for two-week respite breaks five times a year since 1997.

However, Mary learned via the family’s public health nurse the two-week respite break scheduled for prior to Christmas could not take place — with little likelihood of it resuming in 2016.

The HSE confirmed that 14 other families were also affected by the move by Cheshire Ireland to limit respite provision.

Mary asked the HSE for answers as to what she is expected to do, but said: “Nothing has come back since.”

The case is likely to turn the focus on the number of residential and respite beds available across the country.

In a letter to Cheshire Ireland in early December, the family made reference to the “untimely” with- drawal of the respite service and expressed puzzlement over why a risk assessment was not carried out in the intervening months following Sinéad’s last respite break, if there had been a change in circumstances.

In response, a senior staff member at St Laurence’s said respite was under review in light of three recent inspections carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Responding to the Irish Examiner, Mark Blake-Knox, CEO of Cheshire Ireland, said: “Sinéad McDonnell has been a respite service user in our St Laurence facility for a number of years. In recent months, her complex medical needs have become more acute and regrettably we are no longer able to meet those needs.

“We are working with the HSE to find alternative care solutions for Sinéad and we will continue to do that.”

The McDonnells do have an alternative respite break option, albeit for a much shorter period than the two- week stints offered by St Laurence’s, but Mary said it still requires a huge amount of organisation.

Referring to herself and her husband, Denis, she said: “We are both elderly and we do need a break. She knows nothing else. I have huge fears about something else out there. All parents are scared and elderly parents are very scared as no long- term residential places are open to us.”

A HSE spokesman said: “The difficulties arose following Hiqa inspections where the requirement for a number of improvements was identified.

“Cheshire Ireland are putting in place arrangements to address these issues but will find it difficult to continue to provide both respite and residential care.

“The HSE are working with other providers to make alternative arrangements for the individuals affected. We would hope to have this matter concluded within the next couple of weeks.”


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


Pat Kelly Meets Enda Kenny

On 12th February 2016 Alan Kelly of the Evening Echo Newspaper tweeted a meeting between Pat Kelly, Family Carer and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The Taoiseach also was subjected to a few angry words in the English Market where he spoke to Pat Kelly.

Public Talks

We’ve been very busy recently giving talks to groups in Cork.  We’ve focused in particular on talking to students in UCC whom we hope will get some understanding of the life of Family Carers at an early stage in their careers.  We’ve talked to trainee social workers, teachers, nurses and mental health students.

Here’s Pat Kelly talking to student nurses at UCC.