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Kerry writer helps raise awareness of arthritis

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A Kerry writer and geologist is sharing her personal story in a short film to raise awareness of a form of inflammatory arthritis that can take up to eight years to diagnose in Ireland.

Sneem-based novelist Amanda Geard (38) is supporting 'Back in Action', the new campaign from Arthritis Ireland, which aims to make people more aware of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).

The condition mainly affects the spine, but can also cause pain and/or swelling in the shoulders, hips, knees, heels, chest/ribs and small joints of the hands and feet. While back pain is very common in the general population, only a small percentage of people will have inflammatory arthritis of the spine.

Originally from Tasmania, but living in Kerry for several years, Geard was 19 when her symptoms began. What started out feeling like a pulled muscle intensified to the point where she felt there was a knife stabbing into her lower back.

“When every single minute of every day is spent in pain you do let a condition like this define you,” she said.

While diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in Australia, she lived with chronic debilitating pain for 15 years before she finally found an effective treatment plan for managing her symptoms. Having moved to Ireland a number of years ago, she was referred to a consultant rheumatologist, which altered everything.

“It’s always a surprise every morning you wake up and you can get straight out of bed. My pain has decreased to the point that I could go for a run in the morning if I wanted to. That was completely unheard of for a decade and a half."

It’s not being more active that Geard has noticed but a difference in her quality of life. “By decreasing your pain, you can also at times be a little less mobile, so you are able to sit at a computer without the pain in your pelvis consuming your mind rather than what’s there in front of you.”

She has put that new freedom to good use in writing her first novel, which is due to be published next spring.

Support and information for people living with Ankylosing Spondylitis is available on the Arthritis Ireland website, www.arthritisireland.ieand via their helpline, 0818 252 846.

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Pedestrianisation poll: Our readers have their say

By Sean Moriarty The question of pedestrianisation in the town centre has divided Killarney for years but a survey by the Killarney Advertiser this week shows the town slightly more in favour of it. A total of 37.14 percent of respondents want the pedestrianisation of Plunkett St to remain as it is – closed to […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The question of pedestrianisation in the town centre has divided Killarney for years but a survey by the Killarney Advertiser this week shows the town slightly more in favour of it.

A total of 37.14 percent of respondents want the pedestrianisation of Plunkett St to remain as it is – closed to traffic on a permanent basis while 24.76 want it to go back to its pre-pandemic arrangement where the street was only closed to vehicular traffic between 7pm and 7am each night.

An additional 34.29 percent want to see an increase in pedestrianisation in town centre by extending the Main St arrangement that was in place during the summer. In that period the town’s main thoroughfare was closed to traffic, day and night, during the weekend.

Only 20 percent of the respondents want to abolish pedestrianisation altogether, but that is still a significant number ensuring that this debate will linger on for a long time yet.

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National television exposure for local campaign

By Michelle Crean A local group hosting a life-saving information day tomorrow (Saturday) are to receive huge exposure on national TV after a crew came down to interview them about their campaign. Members of Killarney Cardiac Response Unit (KCRU) – who are planning a ‘Restart a Heart Day’ to raise awareness about life-saving techniques – […]

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By Michelle Crean

A local group hosting a life-saving information day tomorrow (Saturday) are to receive huge exposure on national TV after a crew came down to interview them about their campaign.

Members of Killarney Cardiac Response Unit (KCRU) – who are planning a ‘Restart a Heart Day’ to raise awareness about life-saving techniques – invited journalist Paul Byrne and Virgin Media TV crew to town this week.

It’s hoped their campaign will be broadcast tonight (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday).

The KCRU event takes place tomorrow in ANAM Arts and Cultural Centre between 10.30am and 4pm as part of the European Restart a Heart Day. It’ll include CPR demos, public information, an art display, a video launch w️ith many prizes to be won.

“The crew interviewed Community Responder Helen Duggan who explained the events taking place on Saturday,” Kevin O’Leary from KCRU told the Killarney Advertiser.

“European Restart a Heart Day was founded with the support of the European parliament and takes place on October 16 every year. We’re spreading the message that 20 minutes of your time could make all the difference saving a life.”

In 2021, the focus of the event is on survivors with the hashtag #CPRSavedMyLife.

“With this campaign we want to create awareness that everyone can learn CPR and facilitate BLS courses in schools and public locations.”

He said they hope that Kerry TDs Danny Healy-Rae, Brendan Griffin and Minister for Education Norma Foley will be in attendance throughout the day, and the public are invited to attend.

“Find out how simple actions can save lives. Prizes include a three day First Aid course valued at €300, two First Aid kits, and a voucher for a local business.”

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