‘Wheelchair rugby saved me’ after testing diagnosis, says Amy
A Dublin woman has credited joining a wheelchair rugby team with giving her a new lease of life after she was diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease.
Amy Fitzpatrick (32), from Clonshaugh, has been a wheelchair user since 2011. She said the team had become her “second family”.
She plays with the Gaelic Warriors and has also made it on to the Irish squad, which hopes to qualify for the Paralympics in Rio next year.
In her teenage years, Amy’s health declined.
“When I was a teenager, simple tasks like holding a cup or emptying the dishwasher became a major issue,” she said.
“I could never put on my shoes or socks or tie my laces.
“I was 26 when they did a biopsy, and when that came back they believed it was Motor Neurone Disease.
“My family had an awful time of it when they thought it was that because it’s so aggressive.
“But then they found out it was muscle-wasting, and the strain I have affects my heart and my lungs, so I have to go for cardio and lung tests every six months, but at the moment I’m fine.”
Amy, who describes herself as being sports-mad, was determined her condition would not stop her from pursuing her hobby.
“If you ask anyone who’s in a wheelchair, you do have your dark days,” she said.
“My dad bought me my first wheelchair from the Irish Wheelchair Association and I put it out in the back garden – all I could think was, ‘This is not my life’.
“I’ve been sports-mad all my life. I played volleyball, football, everything, and playing wheelchair rugby saved me in a way – it saved me from my head.
“It’s all about the friendships you make.
“My teammates help me with things like how to use my chair, how to balance myself, how to put on my shoes and socks.
“I learned a lot from them.
“They’re like another family – if you’ve a problem or a happy issue, they’re always there to share.”
There are five wheelchair rugby teams across the country, and the Irish squad worked their way up the international rankings.
Amy was speaking at the launch of the Irish Wheelchair Association’s national fundraising campaign,
Angel pins and products will be sold nationwide for €2 each.