Lifestyle Health

Saturday 17 February 2018

‘Smoking is the only pleasure my sick fiancé has’

Carer tells Joe Duffy smoking ‘relaxes’ terminally ill man

Anne O'Shea and fiance Christy Anne spoke to Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline programme on how smoking is the
Anne O'Shea and fiance Christy Anne spoke to Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline programme on how smoking is the "only pleasure" her fiance Christy has in life. Christy (pictured here with his carer) suffers from Huntington's disease.

Aishling Phelan

A carer has defended her decision to allow her fiancé to smoke cigarettes despite him suffering from a crippling disease.

Speaking on RTE Radio’s Liveline programme earlier today, Anne O’Shea said cigarette smoking is the only pleasure her fiancé Christy has in life.

Christy suffers from the debilitating Huntington’s Disease, and his fiancée Anne is his carer.

“It’s a devastating disease, it takes the whole muscle – it effects people in different ways – physically it has took Christy, all his muscles have deteriorated

“He went from being a very able-bodied person to being wheelchair bound and not really being able to drink,” she explained.

Smoking is “the only pleasure he has, everything else has been taken away from him,’’ she said.

Anne contacted RTE’s Liveline after a debate on yesterday’s show about how smokers congregate in the entrances of shops, restaurants, pubs and hospitals and the dangerous effects it can have for those around them.

Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems.

Before he was overcome with the disease, Christy had warned his fiancé that the disease ran in his family.

“It’s one thing that I don’t even stop him anymore because if Christy didn’t have his smokes in the morning when he needs it, it would be like not giving him his medication,” she explained.

“It would have the same effect because the smoke actually relaxes his muscles.”

She called the show as she sat with him in StJames Hospital and he became agitated when he could not have a cigarette for over two hours.

“He’s now at the stage where he is begging them to let him out of the bed but they can’t because he is hooked up to a drip,” she explained.

“He is in St James with pneumonia and is doing his best to get out for a smoke,” she said.

She said the craving he felt was “unbelievable and severe” and explained how doctors try to control it with medication. 

“If Christy doesn’t get his smoke, literally his movements just go out of control.”

Anne O’Shea said smoking is Christy's only pleasure and she was prepared to let him.

The couple have been together 13 years and Anne works from home so she can care for her fiancé.

They got engaged after a year and had planned to start a family before Christy got sick not long after the engagement.

“If we had, had a family I don’t think I would be coping. I definitely wouldn’t be able to cope,” she admitted.

She recalled an incident four years ago where Anne was called to St James hospital after three people tried to hold him down after he did not get outside for his cigarette.

“He still has the will to live but there were times where we entered some very low places but he came above it and I believe the smoke was a very important thing for him.”

Her fiancé Christy is totally dependent on her as, “his swallowing is gone, his walking is gone, he has lost the use of his hands”.'

“He says I’m his hands and his legs and he’s my brain,” she said.

The carer said Christy kept her strong because at times she felt very low.

The couple are planning to marry in May in Anne’s mother’s home in Limerick.

Irish Independent

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