I eventually got in the door of the GP surgery after waiting four days for my appointment. I was much sicker as the illness I was enduring had taken a proper hold of me. I waited an hour before seeing the doctor, which renders the appointment system quite useless. Did I say a word? Not at all, because that appointment was so precious.

Diarmuid was with me. I was examined first. My chest and head were all congested. I needed an antibiotic, steroids and an inhaler. The doctor wondered if I had developed asthma and has referred me on for further tests. I hope not. My energy levels were on the floor and the doctor gave me a sick note for two weeks. I couldn’t wait to get home to my bed.

Diarmuid was found to have a clear chest, which was amazing. He did have a nose infection and needed an antibiotic. I’ve had very little improvement to my sorry state. My friends tell me I’m working too hard. I don’t think it’s that simple. Stress in our lives has a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.

Tim continues to be unwell, also. I’ve been considering this a lot. I think we’ve both hit a wall and it will take time for us to regain our health. It’s only last October since Diarmuid had his kidney transplant, and I think we’ve forgotten just how stressful the whole experience has been. Somewhere in the depths of my being, I realise what a traumatic event the whole saga was. We believe we can come through these events and just go on as normal.

People who have sons and daughters with intellectual disabilities will know the deep-down responsibility and fear that goes with it all. It does not go away

I regularly dream about that mad dash in the car to Beaumont Hospital. I see Tim glued to the windscreen, the police siren blaring and I’m terrified we’re going to crash. I’m still processing it all.

Yes, of course it has been good for Diarmuid, but there is no doubt that it has changed me in a way that is hard to describe. Diarmuid’s vulnerability remains. He is well but we live now with the fear of him missing medication. It could have disastrous consequences and it’s a responsibility we feel every day.

I also know that we are getting older and the day will come when we won’t be able to look out for Diarmuid. People who have sons and daughters with intellectual disabilities will know the deep-down responsibility and fear that goes with it all. It does not go away. We are on tenterhooks every day.

Obviously, it’s because I’m feeling unwell that all this is playing on my mind. At this time of year, I’m normally buzzing with the joys of it all, on top of my workload and utterly satisfied. Instead, I’m struggling to get things done and continuing to hand my roles over to others as my energy runs out and I’m consumed with coughing fits. They don’t mind, but I do.

Getting better

Nevertheless, the medication is making a difference and I am improving - just not fast enough for my liking. One morning last week, we had a group of Americans on a farm visit. This was booked well in advance and couldn’t be cancelled lightly. Tim was chatting to them and I was hoping I might be gone out of the calf shed before the group arrived. They landed in and Tim wondered if I wanted to say a few words.

I wanted to start with “Have ye any idea how bad I feel and how little energy I have?” Instead, I plastered a welcoming smile on my face and lived the enthusiasm of calf rearing, the fulfilment of farming and family. Within seconds, I couldn’t give them enough information as we went from calf pen to calf pen, with me posing for photographs with my girls. I heard Tim ask “Are you going to show them all off?!”

These Americans were far more interested in my pen of beefy Angus X calves than my high EBI replacement heifers. They are in good order and will go to the mart at the weekend. There are now 130 cows calved and the calf shed is hopping. All are healthy and well and I’m finally getting better. I needed those Americans to help me snap out of my self-pity. How lovely it is to talk and share our farming story with people from other countries. After all, that’s the way we sell our produce.

Read more

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