Author Archives: Declan Groeger

Explaining My MS Energy

Ever Ready

My night’s sleep hadn’t been great, not restful enough so before I even got out of bed I knew that it wasn’t going to be a great day; I planned my day accordingly. I still had some energy but not a lot; it had to rationed. It is difficult to describe the fatigue that People living with MS (PwMS) experience so I won’t really try except to say that it is a crushing burden, a total wipe out. It often strikes with little or no warning and forces the cancellation of plans at short notice. It’s not that we don’t want to go out, we are just not able.

I liken my MS energy to the energy within a battery.

Batteries have a finite amount of energy stored within. Some are single-use batteries and others are rechargeable. They come in all shapes and sizes from large car batteries down to the smallest watch battery but they have one thing in common; they have no level indicator. We don’t know how much energy is inside or how long it will last; but when it’s gone it’s definitely gone. The “Ever Ready Bunny” may last up to six times longer than an ordinary battery but even she grinds to a halt eventually and is not rechargeable.

When you look at a new battery it looks exactly like it should.

When you look at me – same.

When you look at a battery you can’t see how much energy is inside.

When you look at a me – same.

When you look at a battery you can’t tell how long it will last.

When you look at a me – same.

When you try to recharge a battery you don’t know how long until it’s fully charged.

When I try to recharge – same.

I continue to do the things I enjoy doing as often as possible. I use Assistive Technology to reduce my energy wastage; my wheelchair is my biggest saver. I try to get out and about every day for a cuppa or just a chat and the days I don’t get out are the days that my energy has been reduced so people outside my family rarely see me at less than my best.

It’s not that PwMS have a load of energy to begin with and whatever energy we have can deplete rapidly. We have no way of knowing how much energy we start the day with and no way of knowing when the tank is about to empty. Everything we do takes more time and energy.

Please don’t stop asking us to join in activities. Please don’t presume that we won’t be able or want to. We may have to cancel at short notice but that is not our decision that is an MS decision. Please understand.

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MSadversary – MSaversary 30 years & counting

It is about 30 years since the doctor said those devastating words “You have Multiple Sclerosis”. I have never marked that anniversary before and I am not going to start now but it is worth noting its’ passing. MS has thrown lots of stuff at me; it has tried to break me but has failed thus far. This not a list of what MS has stolen from me nor is it a list of what I have managed to keep in spite of MS. This is where I show how 3 songs have helped me in my battle.

The first is a Gloria Gaynor song (1978) ‘I Will Survive’.

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…  But I grew strong…”

I have become strong despite MS not because of MS.


The second is a song by Johnny Mercer (1944) “Accentuate the Positive”

“You’ve got accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.”

I was blessed to be born with a load of ‘positivity’ genes. Thanks Mum and Dad.


The third is a song by Dido (2003) “White Flag“

“I will go down with this ship

I won’t put my hands up in surrender.

There will be no white flag above my door.”

Some people confuse stubborn and independent but I don’t; I am both.


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Hospitalised, Part 2

A bit of background to start with for those who don’t know me! I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 30 years and since then various parts of my body have ceased to function in a meaningful manner. My bladder is the most recent part to refuse to co-operate with everyday life. It just doesn’t work anymore. I have a supra pubic catheter fitted (a tube fitted just below my belly button directly into the bladder) and an external bladder; this makes me more very susceptible to Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and ultimately sepsis. Such was the case recently when I was admitted to hospital with sepsis. I also had the added complication of stones in my bladder which increase the chances of infection. MS is taking its’ toll on my body but be warned that I will not go down without a fight.

C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are used to determine infection levels and are determined by blood tests. 99% of people without a chronic illness have a CRP level of less than 10 whilst a raised level under 100 is indicative of a fungal infection and a raised level over 100 is indicative of a bacterial infection. These figures are important in determining what course of treatment to follow. My CRP level on admission was in the region of 350.

Within a very short time after admission I was administered an intravenous (IV) antibiotic and fluids. Over the next week the level reduced to about 200 which wasn’t low enough or reducing fast enough. It was time to change antibiotic to something stronger which resulted in the level reducing to the 100 mark but doggedly refused to go any lower. The doctor decided that I could go home to continue my recovery and I was given a strong oral antibiotic to continue at home and the CRP level continued to decrease.

As I mentioned earlier I had stones in my bladder which needed to be removed in order to lessen the ongoing chances of infection. Bladder stones are not all that unusual and the removal procedure is called Litholapaxy and mine was scheduled for two weeks after my initial release and it is carried out under general anaesthetic. I was advised that a General Anaesthetic and MS don’t often work well together and the recovery time may be slightly longer than usual but I was I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that the procedure had gone very well and I could be released later the same day.

Unfortunately I will always be prone to infection as a result of my compromised immune system; some of the medications I take to slow the progression of my MS and treat the symptoms contribute to the increased risk of infection. There is no certain way to completely eliminate the chances of another infection. I, and other People with Multiple Sclerosis, have to live with this threat constantly hanging over us.

I am now super vigilant of the initial signs of a UTI. The early signs are cloudy urine and/or an elevated temperature. Dehydration also plays a part.

Infections sneak into the body sometimes unknown to us so it falls on us to be super-vigilant – don’t ignore even the smallest cut or graze; it may seem insignificant at the time but wash it and disinfect it immediately. If you notice anything ‘brewing’ consult your doctor immediately. Remember that there are no guarantees of an infection free future.

Nocturia is the medical term for having to make one or more visits to the bathroom during the night; the need to pee after going to bed. An artificial bladder negates that particular problem.

Categories: Cork, Just thoughts | Tags: , , | 6 Comments


I was hospitalised recently for 13 nights and whilst no stay in hospital can be described as pleasant it was necessary. You see I hadn’t been feeling great for a few days and on that Sunday evening I was unable to get myself off the floor; no I hadn’t fallen I was practising some Yoga and just couldn’t get up. Jean brought me to the local hospital where I was admitted through the Emergency Department (ED).

The Triage Nurse on hearing the word ‘sepsis’ whisked me through reception, took an initial set of observations and called a doctor. In the meantime Jean completed the necessary paperwork and my medical history for the doctor who was now at hand. Fortunately it was a relatively quiet evening in the ED and I was administered an Intravenous (IV) antibiotic within a short period. It was only relatively quiet as there were no trolleys available in the ED and no beds available in the hospital. I remained in the triage room overnight.

The following morning I was moved onto a corridor in my wheelchair where I remained for the rest of the day. Later that evening I was relieved to be transferred to a trolley and in the small hours of the following morning I was finally transferred to a ward with a real bed about 30 hours after arriving at the ED. My stay in the ED gave me a clearer understanding of the discomfort and lack of basic privacy experienced by patients. People should never have to endure these conditions. Being a mere statistic on ‘Trolley Watch’ is not good and for a short period I had been just that, a statistic.

I was very disappointed with the washrooms in the three rooms in which I stayed; none of them had bilateral supports at the toilet or a mirror positioned at an appropriate height to facilitate seated shaving and only one had a shower cubicle which was small, had a step and no support rails were evident. In my opinion unilateral support is insufficient anywhere within a hospital. However the doors to the washrooms were wide enough for my wheelchair and could open inward or outward. A room for assisted bathing was available on the ward but alas no shower. I did not avail of the assisted bathing. I did manage to shower in another ward but I raised serious concerns about that shower room which again lacked adequate support rails and space was poorly utilised.

During a light hearted moment I told some of the staff that I was going to do a Trip Advisor report but this is as close as it will get. I was sick and my taste buds weren’t functioning well but I know enough about food to say that whilst not Michelin quality it was tasty and edible. My standout dishes were a very tasty Shepherd’s Pie and a gorgeous Strawberry Cheese Cake.

I spent a total of 13 nights in hospital and I cannot praise the staff highly enough. They did their individual, and collective, bests under difficult circumstances.

Overall the hospital served its purpose. I recovered and wrote this at home but the facilities could be better, much better. Hospitals cater for people who are not in the best of health and designers should make every effort to make patients feel safe and secure. It’s not rocket science it’s common sense; very often what appear to be small issues make a big difference.

Categories: Cork, Just thoughts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Words are not enough!

I was promoted to granda in June 2016 and WOW it was a life changing event of seismic proportions. I was a little concerned about my ability to be a good granda and wrote about it on Living Like You (Click HERE for the article) 

From the first moment I cuddled him I knew that my concerns were without foundation.


My first cuddle with Jack

Jack Sheehan changed my world forever and for the better. At the outset let me say that no words can express the way I feel about him and this is just an amateur attempt. He has had a huge impact on my life and the pure joy and happiness he has brought me is immeasurable. I have yet to meet any one who could describe ‘grandparenthood’ in any clear and comprehensible way. We have dropped down the pecking order of our family pyramid, Jack has taken pole position; he is the king.

I was absolutely thrilled when Jack invited me to accompany him on his first holiday in Spain in September 2016. We had such an enjoyable time that he invited on his next foreign trip which was to Brighton, England in April 2017; I can’t wait for my next invitation.


I have had him perched on my shoulders but for safety reasons I was seated and closely supervised.  “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” There is little chance of that happening as he loves play but also loves books and a bit of culture.

He has no fear of my wheelchair, it having been a part of my life since he came in to it and when we are out together if I am not level with his buggy he peers around to find me and indicates that I should be level with him.


An early visit to Starbucks

He has taken to technology like a duck to water and loves sitting at my computer or playing with my tablet.

When he comes into our house of a morning and I am not sitting at my computer desk he expresses his concern in his own inimitable way.

He scurries around the house faster than I do and has had numerous spins in my rollator which he now uses to help him stand.


Jack in the box

He has the most gorgeous smile along with a fantastic laugh that I firmly believe will get into, and out from trouble in equal measure. I love him to bits and life can only get better and is so much richer since he came into our world.

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Soba – Accessible and Very Tasty

Jean and I visited Soba Asian Street Food in Blackpool Retail Park last evening. We had heard good reports and are quite happy to add our voices to the many compliments. As you know I am not a food critic and this blog is largely about accessibility but the food was absolutely gorgeous, the portions not small, the service friendly and efficient and not expensive. A number of Gluten Free options are available and although I am not coeliac I thoroughly enjoyed my GF Chicken Wings in Mango Tamarind Sauce and my GF Sweet & Sour Chicken. Jean also enjoyed her Thai Green Curry. CLICK HERE for details

There is ample car parking available with a number of designated disabled parking spots close by. There are no obstacles to wheelchair entry but circulation space inside is a bit tight. The wheelchair accessible washroom is spacious and has the requisite rails and low level sink.

All in all well worth the visit! Accessible, tasty and great value

Categories: Cork | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Rachel’s Restaurant, Cork

Jean and I visited this new restaurant (Click Here) last weekend and were absolutely delighted with the accessibility, the staff and the food.It was another part of our ongoing birthday celebrations and it was great.

The double width entrance doorway is level with the footpath and same level continues throughout the dining with the exception of one raised section and there is plenty of circulation space. The wheelchair accessible toilet is exactly that, accessible. It is well decorated and has the appropriate rails etc. It lacked a mirror the night we were there but Rachel promised that it would be installed before our next visit.

This not a critique on the food as we are not food critics but we both loved our three courses and we gave 5 stars for accessibility, food and staff. There is on-street parking in the vacinity.

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Road Trip 2017

With our grandson Jack away in Spain with his Mum and Dad, Jean and I decided to do a bit of travelling in Ireland.

Day 1

The Rock of Cashel (Click Here) was our first stop. The ruined cathedral (1235-1270) occupies a commanding position overlooking vast swathes of lush countryside. Its age and location make access difficult for wheelchair users and the mobility impaired but it is doable and worth the effort. Public toilets, including accessible cubicles, are available adjacent to the car park.


View from the car park

We then travelled on to Holy Cross Abbey but as a funeral was taking place we decided to travel on rather than impose on the sad occasion. On the way to our final destination in Sligo we stopped off at Junction 3 (Topaz Re,Store) which has a range of snacks and an accessible toilet. We arrived at the Yeats Country Hotel, Rosses Point (Click Here) later that afternoon.

The hotel is accessible and the staff friendly and accommodating. Carpets in the reception area and corridors combined with slightly severe, but useable ramps, made wheelchair travel a bit more difficult but Jean was always nearby to give that extra power surge when needed. Our room was spacious, 2 double beds, a bed settee and an accessible bathroom. After settling in and resting we adjourned for drink and food. There are 2 designated parking spaces adjacent to the front door but a considerate fellow traveller decided that his car was too big or too precious for one space.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast we headed north for Co. Fermanagh and Beleek Pottery (Click Here). The weather was not good and dull grey clouds hung low over the countryside interspersed with some heavy showers. The visitor centre is accessible with a great shop, a cafe, an accessible toilet and a number of designated parking spaces. We started our visit with a cuppa before spending time and money in the shop. The inclement weather didn’t allow for much exploring in either Enniskillen or Omagh and with the help of Google Maps we found our way back to our hotel.

Day 3

We enjoyed another hearty breakfast before heading off to The Ceide Fields (Click Here) in Mayo. The visitor centre is accessible with appropriate designated parking and toilet facilities. We had a cuppa in the cafe but unfortunately there was very little else that we could see as the elevator was not working and only a small section outside was wheelchair accessible. We did get to watch a video on the history of the area. We stopped for a bite of lunch in The Merry Monk, Ballina which is wheelchair accessible and accessible cubicles in the toilets.

We then traveled back to Sligo town for a mooch around the shops before heading back to the hotel.

Day 4

After breakfast and checkout we headed for home. We stopped off in Knock (Click Here) to visit the shrine and have a cuppa after which we had an uneventful trip home.




Even though the weather was less than good we thoroughly enjoyed our few days away


Categories: Fermanagh, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

My life is good at the moment in fact it has been good for a while now but I know this will change; it’s not IF this will change but WHEN. I’m not fatalistic I’m realistic.

I am enjoying my ‘up’ time immensely. Jean and I have done a lot together recently. We’ve been to Brighton and Berlin, the Pro 12 Final in the Aviva and Dáil Eireann over the past few months and being honest I couldn’t have done them without her.

We both know that MS can rear its ugly head at any moment and without notice.

I have undertaken a personal project at home; we moved in here 2 ½ years ago and it is only recently that I felt physically able and motivated to clear out the shed, to prepare my ‘Man Cave’. Even though the shed is not big the clean out has taken a few weeks, which in MS time isn’t that long, but it isn’t quite finished yet. A run to the dump and another few hours will see it complete. An old farming adage is my guiding tenet at the moment; “make hay while the sun shines” and when translated into ‘MS Speak” it simply means “do it today because you may not be able to do it tomorrow”.

We both know that ‘tomorrow’ will come maybe not exactly tomorrow but someday.

There was a slight dip recently when the uninvited and unwelcome Mr Unthoff came to visit but thankfully he didn’t stay long. The weather over the past few days was not officially a heat wave more like a ripple but it took a lot out of me.

My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) seems to have taken a back seat for the moment and hopefully will stay back there for a long time. MS has been part of my life for more than 29 years and has left its marks and scars where they can’t be seen, except with an MRI scanner. Those marks and scars have placed limitations on my life but I have learned to live with them. MS has not gone away; it never will. It is just waiting in the shadows for the opportunity to pounce and re-impose old restrictions and maybe introduce a few new ones.

Life is good. Of course good is relative and I still have pains and aches in various parts and I am less able than I was a few years ago but I have learned to work within my limitations. My ‘time window’ for getting ‘stuff’ done is short and any effort to extend the time will be met with staunch resistance. MS is unpredictable and I celebrate the good times and every achievement and live in the here and now. Change will come but I will deal with it then.

This blog is not about boasting about how good I feel at the moment when I know of so many other People with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) whose disease course has been much more turbulent and destructive than mine. It is just to say appreciate the better times when they arrive and deal with the less good ones when they follow. “One day at a time”.

I know that when this good period is over, which I hope will not be any time soon, I will be less able; so I say Carpe Diem and MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES.

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#StrongerTogether #WeAreIreland

I was delighted when asked to make a contribution to a publication by Multiple Sclerosis Ireland (MSI)/Novartis on the Quality of Life (QoL) of people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Ireland (Click Here For Full Report). It was a further honour to have been present at its launch in Dáil Eireann on May 31st, World MS Day. Quality of life is classed as an intangible cost and it is difficult to assign a cash value to it but using all sorts of mathematical wizardry a value was assigned and it equates to 20% of the overall annual cost of MS.

My friend and fellow blogger Aoife Kirwan gave an impassioned and inspirational talk on the issue (Click Here). Please take a few moments to read it in full before you read anymore of this post.

I had the same worries and fears when I was diagnosed in 1988 as no treatments were available and I often wonder where I would be today had I started medication then. On the day of my diagnosis my neurologist said “You have MS –there is no cause, no cure and no treatment”. It was 10 years later after getting a second opinion which confirmed MS that I started medication. Unfortunately, the cause is still unknown and without understanding the cause a cure is nigh impossible to find but treatments are now available.

This infographic shows the societal cost of MS in Ireland QoL 1and to my way of thinking it is a no brainer to do everything possible to reduce the 50% indirect cost and the 20% intangible costs and if that means incurring extra costs in the short term, so be it. Things have changed somewhat since 1988 but there is a lot more to do.

It is likely that the direct costs will increase but the benefits will far outweigh the extra cost; there will be a decrease in indirect costs and an improvement in the QoL of people living with MS (PwMS). It is a win-win situation.

Professor Gavin Giovannoni of Barts, London (Click Here) believes that early treatment is the key to successful treatment, a view which is widely, but not universally held. I am also a believer. Many people have shunned the pharmaceutical route and opted for dietary or alternative remedies as is their right, and some have been successful.QoL 2

Remember, we are Ireland and we deserve every chance to live our lives to our fullest potential. Remember, we are Ireland and we would like to be productive members of society for as long as possible. I’d like to thank Aoife for her use of the phrase in her powerful address to the members of the Oireachtas.

#WeAreIreland #StrongerTogether

Do you use medication or an alternative in your battle against MS?

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Another Accessible Restaurant in Cork

Jean and I, accompanied by my brother Martin and his wife Mary, went out for a meal last night and the chosen venue was El Vino, The Elysian Tower, Cork. The Early Bird menu is available from 5:00 to 9:00 Monday to Thursday and with 3 courses for €25 and a really good selection there were no complaints from us. Our plates were all cleared. I hadn’t seen Baked Alaska on a menu for a long time so I had to try it; El Vino Baked Alaska. Maybe it’s an age thing but I can’t understand why it fell out of favour. The staff are friendly and accommodating.

The restaurant is very accessible and has a spacious accessible toilet on the ground floor.El Vino - May '17 Circulation space in the dining area is a small bit tight for a wheelchair. There are a limited number of dining spaces on the ground floor but more are available upstairs.

Parking is available in The Elysian car park with further spaces in the multi-storey across the road, adjacent to Cork City Hall.

We will definitely make a return visit – well worth it.


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Accessible Berlin – A Packed 4 Days

We (Rose & Bruce + Jean & Declan) landed at Schonefeld Airport courtesy of Ryanair where our tour guide, Frank from Viator (Click Here), was waiting to take us on a tour of the city. Frank really loved his work as a guide and his passion was evident in his narrative while he drove us around with the occasional stop for a photo shoot or a more detailed description. We saw the Wall and its amazing artwork, Checkpoint Charlie, The Brandenburg Gate, The Bundestag and so much more that we didn’t notice the time passing.

We had booked the Holiday Inn on Alexanderplatz (Click Here) which is very central and accessible. Our room had a laminate floor which is very easy for wheeling but can be a bit ‘slidey’ when getting into or out of a bed that I felt was too high for comfort. The sink and mirror in our bathroom were perfectly set but the shower area had no seat although one was delivered after we raised the issue at reception. There were no drop rails adjacent to the toilet but we were told that they could have been supplied if requested. Overall we were happy with the hotel but really disappointed that the rails had not been offered when we complained about the shower seat. It seems to me that on requesting a wheelchair accessible room all the necessary assistive devices should be in place on arrival. I emailed the hotel on May 15th regarding my concerns and at time of publishing have not received a reply.



There is an area in Berlin called Museum Island which is a UNESCO Heritage site containing five museums but because of the brevity of our stay in Berlin we could not visit all of them. We chose to visit the Jewish Museum (Click Here) which is not located on the island and is spread over a number of floors with elevators, accessible toilet and easy access to all areas. We spent a few saddening yet enlightening hours there. There is an entry charge of €8.

We visited Sachsenhasuen Memorial and Museum (Click Here), a former concentration camp. It is about 70Km from the hotel and we opted for a taxi rather than a bus trip and guided tour. I had never set foot in a former concentration camp and it was unsettling to be in a place where so many people had lived and died in such brutal circumstances. This was an experience that put flesh on the bones of my history lessons all those years ago in school. The camp is very accessible but with large areas of cobble which make wheelchair travel more difficult but it is well worth the extra effort. Accessible toilet facilities are available and there is no entry charge. These are some of the mass graves inside the camp.

A cruise is a stress free way to see parts of the city invisible from the road. There are a variety of operators offering a variety of tour times and the operator we chose (Click Here) provided lunch and refreshments. See my previous post about the importance of selecting your embarkation point. Prices vary with the length of cruise and whether food is served.

We had planned on visiting the TV Tower (Click Here) but for structural reasons no wheelchairs, buggies or mobility impaired visitors are allowed entry. See my previous post on the topic.


TV Tower

We visited a ‘flea market’ on Sunday morning and then took taxi ride to Modell Park (Click Here) which has scale models of all the major buildings in Berlin. It is set in a pedestrianised public park with its entrance a good distance from the public roadway. It is totally accessible with an accessible toilet and the trek from the public road is worth it. Entrance fee €4.50

We then visited the Bundestag and particularly the dome built atop the building (Click Here). The views are fantastic. The Dome is totally accessible. An elevator and accessible toilet are available but security requirements mandate a security check well in advance of your visit. Entrance is free.

Food matters while on holiday; we ate twice in La Maison de L’entrecote, attached to our hotel where the Curry Wurst was absolutely beautiful. We ate in the Hofbrauhaus which is an enormous Bavarian ‘beer hall’ that is easily accessed with a spacious accessible toilet and great food. We had a beautiful meal in the Block House which is very accessible but sadly has no accessible toilet facilities; see my previous post. We had lunch while on the river cruise. We snacked and coffeed in a number of places but the accolade for the best cheesecake ever goes to Café La Mouche where we had the most gorgeous Blueberry Cheesecake. Unfortunately the toilet facilities were not great.

We only used the train system once and the train was accessible without the need for assistance from station staff. Both stations we used had elevators. A visual inspection of some tram carriages showed that they are equally accessible.

I had read a report that Berlin was in the TOP 10 of accessible cities and I would certainly agree that it deserves its place close to the top. Well worth the visit

The staff at Schonefeld were courteous and obliging but lacked the equipment for seamless boarding and disembarkation. I choose to wobble down the stairs on arrival but I was carried back up on a chair.

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Berlin 2017 – Accessibility Issues

“Be Prepared” is a motto used by boy scouts the world over but it takes on a particular relevance for disabled travelers.

I visited Berlin, Germany recently and in the midst of the excitement I failed to prepare properly. I didn’t properly research the places that were on my list but I had read a report which placed Berlin high on the accessibility scale.

By and large I was lucky and only one attraction was truly inaccessible; the TV Tower. (Click Here for Details) The Tower is 368m tall, including the antenna, whilst the viewing platform is 203 metres up and is accessed by two elevators. Wheelchairs, buggies etc are not allowed up but neither are people with any mobility impairment whatsoever. The reason given is that in the event of an elevator malfunction or a fire the people on the platform would have to descend the 960 steps without assistance as the stair case is only wide enough for one person. It makes sense in terms of safety but I hadn’t foreseen this problem as two weeks previously I had visited the British Airways i360 (Click Here for Details) in Brighton, England and had no such difficulty but that was a mere 103m off the ground and the viewing platform was the elevator. I didn’t check the respective websites for accessibility information.

We went on cruise on the River Spree (Click Here for Details)  and although there were five steps down into the boat we managed, as going down steps is far easier for me than going up. The boat did have a reasonably accessible toilet. We were lucky with the cruise embarkation point we had selected as some of the departure and landing points are not so accessible as we found out when we choose to leave the boat at a different landing point; there were the same five steps back up from the boat but the there were a further 20 steps back to the footpath. By the time we realised the difficulty of the situation we had no option but to continue the tortuous ascent. My three experienced travel companions, Jean, Rose and Bruce, handled the situation perfectly and the crew were also nearby. I didn’t check the website for accessibility information.

We decided to eat in The Block House Restaurant (Click Here for Details), which is part of a nationwide chain, and is very accessible with beautiful food but had no accessible toilet. I failed to check the facilities before we ordered; luckily I didn’t the loo.

The TV Tower was built in the 1960s long before universal design and accessibility became fashionable but to my way of thinking The Block House can have no valid excuse for the lack facilities.

A full report of our short break will follow later.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

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Compliment-ary Medicine

This is the link to my latest blog on Living Like You

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Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee recently opened a new outlet in Cork. It is located in the Kinsale Road Retail Park adjacent to Turners Cross and joins Woodies, Harry Corry, Halpenny Golf and Home Store and More.

The entrance doorway is more than adequate for wheelchair entry and the inside is easily navigable. The accessible toilet is clean and spacious with sink, mirrors, hand dryer and rails all in the correct position. The only negative is the Emergency Pull Cord which was secured about 5 feet above the ground and thus inaccessible in the event of a fall. This is easily rectified. There is a large car park with a number of designated parking spaces at the entrance.

Costa Coffee - Turners Cross

Accessible Toilet at Costa Coffee



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Accessible Brighton 2017

Brighton Blog

The boarding at Cork Airport was slow and disembarking at Gatwick even slower; I was the last on and the last off. Brighton is about a 25 minute train ride from the airport and all the staff members were excellent. We stayed in the Premier Inn (Click Here) on North Street which is about 10 minutes from the station and only a very short distance from everything. This was another family trip – The Magnificent Seven back together again; we were in Spain together last September.

The hotel reception, restaurant and bar are located on the first floor which is serviced by 2 elevators. There is ample circulation space and a functional and accessible bathroom off the dining area. The Premier Inn chain (Click Here) has accessible bedrooms but each venue should be checked for individual needs. We had reserved an accessible room and it was exceptionally spacious but the bathroom was a bit of a let-down as it had a bath instead of a shower and baths are difficult for me but it was well appointed with a low level sink and an array of grab rails

Over the few days we rambled through The Lanes, old Brighton with Dickensian laneways, where we visited the world famous Choccywoccydooda (Click Here) and had a cuppa in The Plant Place. We had a light lunch in The Little Shop another day. The lanes are quite narrow and prone to pedestrian-congestion but have a large number of shops. The area is a bit hilly but manageable.

Brighton Pier (Click Here) is very accessible and well worth a visit. There is a wide variety of things to do including games arcades, rides, pubs and places to have a bite to eat. Jack won more than 1,100 tokens on his first attempt at a gaming machine; a game of Paw Patrol. Jellied Eels were available but Jean and I exercised self restraint and declined.  Staff members keep a sharp eye on the Disabled Toilet to minimise abuse. We travelled on BA 360i (Click Here) which is vertical ride reaching 450 feet into the sky giving panoramic uninterrupted 3600 views of Brighton. There is a clean and spacious Disabled Toilet in the terminal building. SeaLife (Click Here) aquarium is also worth a visit and is totally accessible. The main entrance is accessed by a considerable number of steps or via an underpass from the Pier side; my only criticism of the underpass was the awful stench that pervaded the area from entrance to exit. Improvements to the extensive promenade are ongoing and probably will be for a number of years to come but it is still accessible.

I was a bit tired the first day so the gang went to a nearby Mexican restaurant, Wahaca (Click Here), and spoke highly of the food. We had a light lunch the next day in the nearby ‘All Bar One’ (Click Here) which is accessible with a stair lift to the mezzanine floor where the accessible toilet is located and the food was great. Al Duomo (Click Here) an Italian restaurant was the setting for our big dinner; the restaurant is accessible and the food and staff fantastic. I didn’t check the toilet facilities. Henry, Rowan and I visited the Colonnade Bar (Click Here) which has a large step at the front door and the toilets are down stairs. However it is a lovely cosy, old fashioned bar and worth visiting when attending the theatre next door.

We visited Churchill Square Shopping Centre (Click Here) which is new and modern and much the same as all modern shopping centres.

We noticed that many of the buses were named after local people which we found a bit bemusing albeit a nice recognition of deceased local people who had made a “significant contribution or had a strong connection to the area in their lifetimes”.

We booked an accessible taxi for the trip back to the railway station and then our onward journey home. All-In-All a five star experience

Categories: England | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve thrown in the towel, finally.

I would urge you to use this link to read about my dissatisfaction with Cork University Hospital (CUH) before reading the final installment.

I received a letter this week which largely said that they were not acting on my safety criticisms and I emailed reply which I have copied here;

Dear Ms Cronin

I am in receipt of yours of the 13th instant and I have to reiterate that I am not happy with its content with particular reference to the emergency call button / pull cord.
Surely it would not be too difficult to install a second emergency button close to the floor adjacent to the toilet. After all is said and done the floor is where a patient is likely to end if they suffer an adverse incident while at the toilet.
The shower area is potentially the most perilous area in the bathroom and while I accept that a cord may pose a danger to some patients the absence of any mechanism to summon assistance is inexcusable, in my opinion. I suggest that a water proof call button close to the floor would resolve my concern
I am not happy with the proposed works but I have decided not to appeal to Office of the Ombudsman. This issue is ongoing since August and I am not going to invest any further time or energy in the matter. I am happy I have raised the issues in good faith and I really believe the proposed emergency call procedures are totally inadequate.
Kind regards
So you can see that I have thrown in the proverbial towel. They say that you ‘can’t beat City Hall’ well in this cae they were correct
Categories: Cork | Leave a comment

My MS Fears

This post first appeared in MS & Me on March 9th 2017. Please feel free to visit MS & Me to see numerous other posts

My MS fears have changed over time and yet they have stayed the same. You see I never really worried about what MS would do to me but how it would affect my family.

My first fear, post diagnosis, concerned my ability to continue working; the ability to provide for my family and continue in the hunter/gatherer role. Would my MS progress rapidly, rob me of my independence, confine me to a wheelchair and make me a burden on my family. I was 31 years old with two small children and I just didn’t know the answers and I was worried.

I worried whether either of my two children would have MS; that fear is still with me. As you know more women are diagnosed with MS and I have two daughters. There is a hereditary factor with MS and I have a maternal uncle who lives with MS; the odds were stacking against my two girls. I have twenty nieces and nephews and many of them have children of their own and I have a grandson. I sometimes wonder whether any of them will have MS.

Would I be able to continue with my fair share of household duties or would Jean have to carry a disproportionate load, whilst maintaining her nursing career? We found our level and Jean never complained but I did feel ‘guilty’ for not doing enough. Jean’s proportion has grown steadily over the years as mine has decreased but this is no longer a cause of worry; it is reality.

I had a number of other concerns but most of those only became relevant as an event approached; Birthday Parties, First Communions, Confirmations, Graduations, Holidays. Would I be an active participant or merely an observer? I did play an active part in all of these events. As my MS progressed and my precious girls matured into young women I worried if I would I be able to walk them up the aisle if they decided to marry? The girls did decide to marry and with a combination of grit, determination, pure stubbornness and a massive amount of positivity from the wedding guests I managed to fulfil my role as ‘Father of the Bride’ and walked up the aisle with both girls.

When I heard that I was to become a grandad I worried whether I would be able to play with our grandson Jack? Would I be able to hold and cuddle him? The good news is that this fear/worry was very short lived and Jack will be loved as much, if not more, than any grandson in history. Our playtime together will be different but every bit as enjoyable.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is different for each and every one of us and my one piece of advice to anyone diagnosed with MS would be not to be consumed by fear and worry. A diagnosis with MS is life-changing not life ending (although it may feel like that at the time).

Categories: Just thoughts | 1 Comment

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

I was taking to a young man recently and to be honest I thought he was a bit on the heavy side and could do with a few sessions in the gym. We were in a queue and we just started chatting and he told me that he had had work and personal difficulties a few years back but he was getting on top of them now. In the height of his troubles his weight had climbed to more than 26 stone (367 pounds)  He then told me that he was now down to just over 16 stone (256 pounds) and having lost that much weight and getting his life together he was quite happy to plough ahead and lose some more. I was annoyed with myself for prejudging him,

Never judge a book by its cover!

It got me thinking about other non-visible stuff. I drive a reasonable sized family car and most of the time there are only two of us in it. To the casual observer we look like people who contribute massively to traffic congestion and the ever increasing hole in the ozone layer. Should we get a smaller car?. Those bystanders cannot possibly see that we have a baby seat permanently installed in the rear seat of the car, the other half of the rear seat is taken by a walking aide and the boot is occupied my wheelchair.

Never judge a book by its cover!

We see someone place a disabled parking badge on the dash and get out of the car and walk away with no apparent disability. This could be a person with MS on a good day but we rarely see that person battling the odds to get back to the car absolutely exhausted and almost crying in pain.

Never judge a book by its cover!

That person that we meet who is always in good humour probably only comes out of the house on good days and that is what we see; we never see the bad days or the black moods or the addiction that is hidden under the surface

Never judge a book by its cover!

It is difficult not to be judgmental as first impressions last. If the cover, or the title, of the book is not eye-catching we probably won’t pick it up. We need to be more understanding. We need to learn to NOT jump to conclusions. We need to learn NOT to assume or presume. We need to learn not to judge a book by its cover but we need to differentiate between the genuine and the disingenuous and that takes more than a cursory glance. We may need to curtail our disapproving looks and comments until we know the full facts. The old adage ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ comes to mind.

Categories: Just thoughts | 1 Comment

Spanish Point, Co Clare

Jean and I booked into The Armada Hotel, Spanish Point for 2 nights for a short break. We headed off on Tuesday morning and stopped at Corbett Court, Ballyhea where we enjoyed a delightful light lunch. The restaurant is very accessible and the accessible toilet is spacious and functional. We then continued into County Limerick and under the River Shannon into County Clare and onto our final destination, Spanish Point, which lies on the Atlantic coast and the next stop is the United States of America.

We arrived at the Armada Hotel later that afternoon in very blustery conditions and whilst not actually raining at the time it was very damp. The hotel is accessible with a number of designated parking spaces adjacent to the entrance foyer. There are accessible toilets just off the reception area. We had reserved a wheelchair accessible room and now it was time to check it out. Our room was on the ground floor and it was exceptionally spacious with a functional and accessible en-suite bath room. The shower was functional but not as good as our own ‘rain-head’ but the locally handmade soap more than made up for it.

We went for a look around outside even though it was very blustery and foggy. On a clear sunny day the scenery would be spectacular. We then retired to The Ocean Bar where Jean ordered a piping hot coffee and I opted to try a local brew called Dooliner Beer. The weather being poor enough and the evening already closing in we decided to stay put and drive around the next day. That evening we ate in Johhny Burkes pub; Jean enjoyed a beautiful lamb shank while I enjoyed the largest bowl of mussels I have ever had. More pints and coffee followed.

The next morning we both enjoyed a fabulous carvery breakfast before heading off to The Cliffs of Moher. By now the rain and wind had settled in and that precluded us from going out to the cliff edge although many brave hearts did. We confined ourselves to the Visitor Centre which is very accessible and educational. It is well ramped, has an elevator and accessible and functional toilets. Two cafés and a visitor shop are also included. There are a number of designated parking spaces adjacent to the main entrance. Two of the photographs were obviously not taken during our visit. This is a link to a visit in better weather weather in 2013.

We then drove on to Lisdoonvarna and Doolin but the rain was still falling and the wind still howling so we decided to go back to the hotel for more coffee and beer. We dined in The Pearl Restaurant where Jean had paté and I had the most delightful tomato soup followed by pork for Jean and salmon for me.

A hearty breakfast followed the next morning before we headed for home. Storm Doris had passed over and it really was the calm after the storm and we drove home in bright dry conditions. We stopped off in Lily Mai’s at Bunratty for a cuppa and a scone before undertaking the final leg of the journey. Designated parking is available adjacent to the door and an accessible toilet is available inside.

Well worth a visit even if the weather isn’t the best.

Categories: Clare, Cork | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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