Tuesday 20 August 2019

'I've nobody coming in at night to check if I'm in bed, to check if I'm still breathing'

Terminally-ill former nurse (52) makes dying wish for a full-time carer

Kate Tobin, who is campaigning for the right to die having being diagnosed with MS four years ago
Kate Tobin, who is campaigning for the right to die having being diagnosed with MS four years ago
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A terminally ill woman who was told she has less than six months to live has made a dying wish to Simon Harris to give her a full time carer.

Kate Tobin (52) was told a fortnight ago that her progressive multiple sclerosis had gotten worse, and that she won't make it to the end of the year.

"I have a rare form of MS so it's spreading rapidly around my body and organs. I'm going rapidly downhill. I've got bone to bone disease, so at the moment my left leg is in plaster. My bones are now crumbling," she told Independent.ie.

"The neurologist told me I had four to six months to live, that I definitely wouldn't make it through another winter."

The former nun, from Lismore Co. Waterford, worked as a palliative care nurse until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013.

With only months left to live, Kate is begging the Health Minister to provide her with full time care, so that she doesn't die alone.

At the moment, Kate receives 14 hours of care during the week at her adapted home in Co. Wexford. She moved to Clonroche in Wexford last year from Lismore, Co. Waterford as the house she was previously living in wasn't wheelchair accessible. 

"I have two women that were contracted out by the HSE two years ago, but they only work for 14 hours a week, Monday to Friday. It means that from 12.30 on Friday until 1.30 on Monday, I have nobody. 

Kate Tobin
Kate Tobin

"I'm having breathing problems - my ribs are obviously affected. I've got nobody coming in at night to check if I'm in bed, or even to check if I'm still breathing. 

"I'm making my dying request to Simon Harris to ask if I could have more carers to make sure I'm safe. Even just an extra hand with my personal hygiene and to have help walking around."

Kate explained that she's reached out to the HSE and Mr. Harris but has yet to hear anything back from them.

"I'm only 52, I've got a disease that's going to kill me. I've reached out to the Taoiseach, who told me to contact Simon Harris, but in the last four months he hasn't answered any of my emails.

"I spent this weekend all alone again. Am I going to have to spend another one alone or do they just want me to die? I feel like I'm being a major inconvenience to those in Dáil Éireann."

A spokesperson for the HSE said they are happy to discuss any issues a patient may have with them directly, but are unable to publicly discuss the circumstances of any individual.

"The HSE encourages anyone who may have questions about or issues to raise in regards to their care or access to services, to make contact with us and their situation can be addressed directly with them."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said they are unable to comment on individual cases.

Last year, Kate began a campaign for the right-to-die. She explained she felt some "peace of mind" as she began planning her funeral and how she wanted to die. However, euthanasia and assisted suicide are currently illegal in Ireland.

Speaking to Independent.ie in May 2017, Kate said: "My directive is that I don't want any resuscitation if I become unconscious and if I get an infection I don't want any antibiotics, so it will slowly kill me. I want to keep my pain managed but I don't want any treatment that will prevent me from dying."

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