I wanted to write this blog about how thankful I am to have had this opportunity. Initially I was anxious about going because I don't look disabled. I felt like a fraud. I felt that maybe I didn't seem like someone who needed respite. When I got dropped off, I cried because I was so scared everyone would be in wheelchairs and deserving of respite and that I felt like maybe I didn't deserve respite because I'm mobile.
An hour later, I eventually came out of my room and met the other young people who I'd be staying with. We all hit it off straight away and although all our MS looked different to each other, we all had the same fears about our stay in respite.
I cannot speak highly enough about the staff at the Care Centre. They were amazing. We literally did not have to ask for anything. Our meals were prepared for us and activities. I have never clicked with a group of people like this in my whole life. We all ‘got’ each other. We all understood each other. If you needed a rest, there was no judgement. Not having to explain why you couldn't take part in certain activities was a massive thing for me. None of us questioned or judged one another.
Not only did we have our meals prepared. We had activities too. We did yoga, music nights, quiz nights, movie nights, we even watched the rugby and had a few drinks. We got to do normal everyday things but with staff doing all the work, I never wanted to leave. I suffer with chronic nerve pain and for that whole week my pain levels and anxiety were non-existent. It's amazing how much I got to re-energize in one week. I didn't have to cook or clean, and it made such a difference. We even got individual physio assessments and exercise plans. I've nerve damage in my left arm and leg and the physio gave me a great plan to help me build on my weaker side.
Not only did I enjoy the stay. I made friends for life. I cried when I arrived, and I cried my heart out when it was time to leave. We had conversations about MS, about life, about everything in-between. Most of all we had the craic. I'm counting down the days to our next stay in November. I never really understood how much I needed respite until I experienced it. Whether you're further along in your journey with MS or you're just newly diagnosed, we all deserve a week of relaxation. Life is hard enough, throw MS on top of it… whether your disability is physical or invisible you all deserve a break.
A big shout out to my friends Sonya, Síle, Pascha, Paul, Jaclyn, Breda, Siobhan and Aoife. Thank you, MS Ireland & the Care Centre, for giving me the opportunity to make friends for life and for making my life that bit easier and happier.
MS Ireland launched their MS Respite Centre Business Case seeking an additional €627,000 funding to increase respite availability to people with Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological conditions. This extra funding will expand the Respite Centre’s opening hours to 350 days and provide an additional 1,248 bed nights.