By Michelle Crean
A Killarney teacher who has “exhausted” all treatments after being diagnosed with a debilitating illness has launched a fundraiser to help get expensive and vital treatment abroad.
Karin O’Shea (26), who had no option but to quit her teaching job in St Brendan’s College due to her illness, has experienced immense damage to immune and nervous system over the past 12 years.
In April last year, the Kilgarvan native was finally diagnosed with Lyme’s disease and needs to raise upwards of €45,000 for the expensive treatment in Germany.
Over the years she has suffered debilitating neurological symptoms which includes excruciating nerve pain, migraines, head pressure, short term memory loss, episodes of body paralyses and tremors, slurred speech, fainting, loss of balance, extreme exhaustion, insomnia and nausea.
“The disease has had a devastating effect on me. I know that this will be a shock for some people to hear about how serious this situation has become. However, this is now my reality. This is a diagnosis that has deeply affected every single aspect of my life. My Lyme disease went undiagnosed for 12 years. I was given the label of Fibromyalgia and I managed these symptoms. Life was normal.”
In October 2020, Karin experienced a severe deterioration in health.
After visits to countless consultants, undergoing X-Rays, scans, MRIs, and hospital admissions, she says she still had no answers.
Her bloods were then sent to Germany to test for Lyme’s disease and the results came back positive, and also showed chronic immune suppression.
She attended appointments with Dr Lambert an Infectious Disease Specialist in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, and was put on antibiotics which she said is the only available treatment in Ireland for Lymes.
“I was on a treatment plan of up to five antibiotics a day for several months. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful due to late diagnosis. This treatment also came with severe side effects.“
She says that going to Germany is “the only option left” for her as she is “now mostly housebound”.
“The only option left for me now is to travel to St George’s Clinic in Germany for a month of intensive treatment, followed by a six month rehabilitation plan.”
So far, she said she has spent upwards of €6,000 on medical treatments which does not include travel, post-treatment care, and further appointments.
“My private health insurance nor the Cross Border Scheme can assist in any of the costs involved as Chronic Lyme disease is not recognised by the Irish State. I have nowhere left to turn. Any donation big or small is hugely appreciated.”
Karin’s GoFundMe: ‘Please help Karin get urgent treatment in Germany’ is set at €45,000 to cover all costs including travel and accommodation as well as the treatment. So far she has raised over €30,000 from 687 donations since her page was created less than a day ago.
Today (Wednesday), Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae, who is personal friends with Karin, highlighted her plight in the Dáil, calling for the need for early diagnosis and treatment for Lymes disease.
“I wish to highlight the plight of Karin O’Shea who is a personal friend of our family and is best friends of my own daughter Theresa. This girl has gone around here in this country undiagnosed with Lymes disease for more than 12 years. The problem is that the department here doesn’t recognise Lymes or won’t accept results of blood tests or diagnosis from Germany or other countries. Testing in Ireland is inaccurate, we have only one specialist in this country who can only offer antibiotics. Irish patients have no other option but to seek treatment abroad, which is not covered by the Cross Border or Treatment Abroad Scheme because GPs here are not allowed to sign off on it," he said.
"There is not enough education about Ticks in Ireland, many going around undiagnosed as not everyone comes out with bullseye rash. More must be done to educate people about other symptoms such as muscle pain, tiredness and headaches, as early diagnosis can make a huge difference in curing this terrible disease. This lovely girl’s whole life is in turmoil. She has had to give up her teaching job in St Brendan’s College in Killarney. The cost of four weeks treatment for her in Germany is €35,000 and she has to embark on a GoFundMe campaign to help her get this treatment.”
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.
The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.
Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.
The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.
“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
By Chris Davies
Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.
Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin.
“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”
Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.
While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.
This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.
There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week.
The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out.
On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.
However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.
The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language. The school signed up to Language...
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
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