How the CRYP Centre Helped Me by Fintan O’Mahony

Love___Heart_of_hearts_042863_It’s been a busy few months. I’m getting two weeks off from Wednesday, which is welcome I suppose. Where this all began is with an appointment at the CRYP centre in Tallaght hospital to get my three girls, and me, checked for any irregularities in our hearts. We were monitored, scanned, I ran farther on a treadmill than,  it is safe to say, I have run in quite sometime and were sent home with Holter monitors to wear over night.

Actually, it didn’t begin with that at all. It began in the summer of 2006 when, while on holiday in Killarney with my wife and then only one daughter we got a phone call nobody would wish on his worst enemy: my brother had been found dead in his apartment in Dublin. Conor had been treated for a heart problem for years before and now at 32 he was gone, it’s defined our family since.

So when the doctor called to say my Holter monitor showed a pause of five and a half seconds around five am (in other words my heart stopped) I was pretty calm. The kids were all fine and I knew Conor had had pauses of up to eight seconds so I didn’t panic. Then I asked the doctor what we should do about it and she said she’d like me to get a pacemaker.

A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device into your chest, to help your heart beat regularly, you know that. The surgery is minor, I only get a local anesthetic and I’ll be awake while it’s done. It’s preventative, it’s to make sure I motor on, but it’s my heart and that’s crucial to understanding the nerves that go with this operation.

When I was a kid I was a pretty good athlete, a sprinter and middle distance runner for most of my teens, I think it’s safe to say that girls and school got in the way and I drifted away from it. I still feel my heart beating as I won my first All-Ireland medal, it was fine and regular when I came off the bend in a 200 metre sprint, but when I saw the line and no-one ahead of me, there was a quickening, when I saw my brothers and parents that’s when it almost burst out of my chest. Or when I saw my wife in Holycross Abbey on our wedding day, or when each of my three children was born, that’s when I remember my heartbeat. So the way I think of having a pacemaker fitted isn’t as the end of something, just a little bionic kick to make sure I can have more of those moments, though I’m not planning on running 200 metres, or getting married again (or having any more kids!).

At CRY they have a big family tree for us, on a huge spreadsheet. I imagine there’s a code for checked and clear, one for checked and operated on, one for the next world. A death in the family isn’t easy, a young death is a shadow hanging over you for ever. That’s what CRY is for, making sure the shadow doesn’t spread. My Dad has raised huge money for them over the years, they exist on donations which is criminal when there is such a need for the service they provide.

So. That’s it. I’m not allowed to drive, but I can, write and tweet. If you’re thinking of helping a charity cry.ie is a good choice.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact lebbs@cry.ie or check our website.

The CRYP Screening Centre…Not Just Any Screening Centre

One of the main forms of fundraising within CRY is done by the families throughout Ireland that have attended the Free Screening Service in the CRYP Centre in Tallaght Hospital.  One of the main reasons these families fundraise for CRY is because they have received such a brilliant service in the centre, that they feel they want to give back to say thank you and to also ensure that this vital service is kept open. Not many people know about the ins and outs of the CRYP Centre, so I thought I would write a few lines on it this week.

The centre is run by Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Deirdre Ward, along with her support team Helen Connaughton (Clinical Nurse II), Alison Storey (Cardiac Technician) and Deborah Blackburn (Administrative Support). One of the things that I constantly hear from families that I meet is that they receive such a warm reception in the centre and that it is different to a lot of other hospital visits you might experience. This is so lovely to hear as many of these families have been through a lot as the result of loosing a young person at a young age to SADS so really need to be treated with kid gloves.

The team at the CRYP Centre tries to facilitate families by seeing all of them within the one day if possible as a lot of them are travelling up from different parts of the country. They are put through a wide range of tests (details are on http://www.cry.ie/index.php/need-help/cryp-screening-centre/cardiac-screening-tests) and once everything has been completed, they are given their results at the end of the day by Dr. Ward. This is one of the most comprehensive screening services you will find in Ireland that is lead by such an experienced cardiologist and the great thing about it is that it is free. Unfortunately though, there are waiting lists because of limited funds. However, if we in CRY work towards increasing the fundraising we do, this would mean the waiting lists would be reduced and patients will receive an even better service than they are already receiving.

Orla Durkan, CRY Ireland.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.