Gale Gallagher talks about her sister Karen's life with MND and how important it is to access help and support as quickly as possible.
My sister was brave, very brave.
We sadly lost Karen to MND on 10 September 2009.
What a girl! Only 47 years of age and two lovely children.
Once having being diagnosed with MND and getting over the shock Karen came to terms with the illness quicker than we did, she didn't want sympathy. I would meet up Karen about twice a month and take my mom. My husband Gary also would take mom about twice a month. Weekends we left alone for Karen to share with her family.
Whenever we went home, there was nothing but stories of the fun we had together. Six months into the illness, Karen could not speak and had to be careful about eating small cut up pieces of food. Chest Infections and loss of foot, knee and hand control AND the weight loss, please WATCH the weight loss.
Karen had refrained from having the peg feed, and didn't feel she needed help from MND Association/Marie Curie other than the tools within her home ( i.e. the stair lift, the bathroom conversion, special chair, the walker, and the light touch key board that allowed us to communicate).
The chest infections became more regular. We went on our holiday late July/early August, everyone was together. The shock of Karen's weight loss was immeasurable. A big intake of breath, a big smile and we got through the day. Later that evening it was on everyone's mind that Karen should have the peg. I think by now Karen was feeling really ill, only five and half stone and breathing badly. Oh yes, please watch the breathing.
Karen was admitted into hospital. She had a chest Infection and was not eating. The peg feed finally took place, we knew Karen would die eventually, but not now, not now when we were building her up. She was at the lowest she could be, but the feed was going in through the night and her wedding ring was no longer falling off her finger. We thought wow, we've got more time. Yes watch that breathing, Karen was being treated for chest infections but the hospital was not specialised in MND. What we needed was a palliative nurse.
It was all to late, Karen came out of hospital on Wednesday 9 September at 6.15pm she past away 24 hours later at 6.15pm on Thursday 10 September.
To all you people reading this story, My sister was brave, very brave. I feel we left things too late, accept the MND Association/Marie Curie into your lives so they can help you towards the end. Instead of you running round being busy and not having special time to spend with those you love.
Memories stay with you FOREVER
Karen's sister Gale
Good night god bless you SIS