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The human face of the Irish Coalition's disability funding cuts

Saturday 26 July 2014


From Ireland's Sunday Independent:


Valerie Mullen
Valerie Mullen tried to take her own life four times
before Chronic Pain Ireland gave her a lifeline.
(Photo: Tony Gavin)

The human face of Coalition's €1.2m disability funding cuts

Voluntary groups face an uphill battle to secure new funds within the next 12 months, writes Wayne O'Connor

PUBLISHED 20/07/2014|00:00

For years, Valerie Mullen was in so much pain that she attempted to take her own life on four separate occasions. Valerie suffers from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes her extreme physical and mental pain.

"I usually have awful pain in my back, my legs and my arms. It affects my sleep, it affects eating - it affects everything," she told the Sunday Independent.

"It is a motor neuron disease of the nervous system, where you have a constant, burning pain in every nerve you have."

The condition has taken a terrible toll on the 56-year-old from Rathgar, Dublin, and this was compounded when her basic mobility was impaired after she suffered a stroke five years ago.

She has epilepsy and is also visually impaired due to nerve damage caused by brain surgery she had in 1999.

Taking her own life seemed like the only release as she battled with constant pain, nausea and depression for the last 30 years.

"I wasn't able to get out of the house and most days I wasn't even able to get out of bed because the pain is so bad."

Valerie was fed up living a life where her choice was to either live in constant pain without medication or to live with the seemingly endless series of illnesses caused by her treatment,

"I used to be on such a cocktail of medication -everything from a basic painkiller to morphine - but I am now at a level where I can totally manage my pain without any medication at all."

That's because the help of Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI) gave Valerie a lifeline. The organisation taught her how to cope with her pain without the use of medication, improving her quality of life and providing her with the support a person with a debilitating illness needs.

"I will never take any such chemicals again," she says of her medication.

"It played a huge part in keeping me down and I was like a zombie. I could not function. I was not capable of stringing two words together or forming a sentence. I could not even write," added Valerie. Now Valerie is a totally different person.

She is mobile, walking with the aid of a cane, and able to communicate and speak fluently thanks to the help she has received from CPI.

Her quality of life has also improved. She enjoys creative writing, attends CPI workshops and is learning how to play the cello.

"I feel much, much better. I still have a huge amount of pain but I am managing it and it is at a controllable level. It doesn't control me anymore - I control it. I no longer go around like a walking zombie," she added.

However, the support Valerie and 2,000 other people get from Chronic Pain Ireland could be taken away next summer after the Government told disability groups to find alternative sources of funding by next June, after it was forced into a temporary U-turn on plans to withdraw more than €1.2m of aid to over 20 charities. CPI receives an average of just €40,000 per year from the Government, but without the funding it would cease to exist.

CPI chairman John Lindsay said the winding up of the organisation makes no sense. He added: "People will become increasingly dependent on the HSE because we will no longer be there to provide our services - in the long run, it is going to cost the Government more."

Sunday Independent


The above originally appeared here.

Please note: This article contains references to death. If you have feelings of helplessness, or of suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Lifeline is an excellent starting point: Lifeline – Suicide Prevention resources and links.


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