An Inishowen woman living with chronic pain has revealed she is forced to make an agonising journey to Dublin for regular treatment. Now she’s calling for more services to be available locally.
Irene McDermott suffers with fibromyalgia - an illness that means she’s in pain from head to toe. Her condition has meant her husband Declan had to give up full-time work five years ago to care for her and their four children. But despite this he’s not entitled to a penny of carer’s allowance.
Now 31 year-old Irene wants to raise awareness of the silent illness and let other sufferers, especially those in Inishowen, know they’re not alone.
She said she feels let down by the system and feels isolated because she can’t avail of help locally.
Because of the nature of the condition travelling to Dublin for treatment, and even within Donegal attending support groups – which she says are really beneficial – is all too traumatic and sore for Irene to do.
She told the Journal: “I’m going to Dublin and the doctors just haven’t got the time to talk to me. It wasn’t like that way back, they were looking at me in the beginning and there was time to see me. Now it’s a case of going all the way down there for ten minutes.”
Her mum Bridget said fibromyalgia affects the whole family because in Irene’s case she needs her husband to look after the children and her mum to drive her to the capital.
Bridget said: “You are just taken through and being rushed. There is no point in going to Dublin anymore.”
There’s also a huge financial burden on the family. Irene said she’s struggled to pay for many of the treatments but because she’s overwhelmed with pain she has no choice but find the money to pay for them.
Bridget said it’s essential more is done to help sufferers because she says there’s nowhere near enough help and support in Donegal and Ireland.
She added: “When you have fibromyalgia you have a battle yourself and then you are strong enough to fight with them. I wish somebody somewhere could step forward and say it’s not right. The people that it is happening to they are not able to say it. When you are sick you are not able to fight for yourself. “
Irene added: “Everyday is an effort and a struggle. I get up and it’s like a fight , I’m fighting to do normal things.