herald

Friday 20 July 2018

I'm begging the HSE for 24-hour care that will give me back my independence, says paralysed Derek

A YOUNG Dublin man who was left paralysed following a 15ft fall has made a desperate plea to the HSE for extra care.

Derek Nolan (24), from Rathfarnham, was lucky to survive after breaking his neck following a horrific accident in 2007.

He slipped and plunged 15ft off a wall near his home, crashing his head off the ground and smashing one of his vertebrae.

But despite years of intensive physiotherapy, he found out that he would never again be able to walk or use his fingers.

Derek spoke today for the first time about his "devastation" knowing he will never "fulfil his dreams" and the daily struggle he and his family endures due to his disability.

He told the Herald: "It just kills me to think I'll never get to do all the things I had dreamed off. I'll never get to play soccer again, I'll never get to travel with my mates, I won't ever have the career I want. It's just really hard.



BATHROOM

"I was just an ordinary 20-year-old enjoying life and then I woke up to a nightmare."

He added: "I hate the fact I'm a burden on my family. I can see the strain it puts on them. It's hard to think positive but there's just nothing to look forward to."

Despite being in a wheelchair, Derek is allocated just 55 hours of care assistance each week from the HSE. It means that on weekends, he is entitled to just two hours of professional help.

He explained that he is often on his own for hours on end each day, unable to do simple things like use the bathroom or cook meals.

"The worst thing is, I was such an independent person before the accident. But I can't cope in the evenings when my carer has left. And on weekends, I don't even get to go out.

"My dad works long hours so some days I'm just sitting here on my own, feeling helpless. I've begged the HSE for 24-hour care but they say I have no chance of getting it.

"It's horrible to think that in 10 years time, my life won't have changed. I'm 24 but I sometimes think what's the point going on when I'm like this."

Derek's heartbroken dad Mark told the Herald that he worries about his son every day.

"Of course it's been hard on all of us, but nothing like it's been for Derek. It's hard to persuade him there's light at the end of the tunnel. We as a family desperately need additional help. Derek needs 24-hour care.

"He used to be so independent. He used to walk everywhere. He was so popular. Now he doesn't feel up to seeing his mates as much. He's struggling, I see it in his face every day."

The HSE said it could not comment on individual cases.

hnews@herald.ie

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