Robert’s fight to stay positive in the face of debilitating illness
THE LIFE OF TINAHELY MAN ROBERT NOLAN (28) HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AS HE BATTLES LYME DISEASE BUT HE’S DETERMINED TO KEEP FIGHTING, WRITES DEBORAH COLEMAN
A YOUNG Tinahely man who has been battling Lyme Disease for over four years has vowed not to let the condition beat him and to work to create greater awareness of the illness.
Robert Nolan (28) said that while the disease has robbed him of a career and left him dependent on his family for care, he will not let it beat him and intends to make a full recovery.
Apart from hospital trips and doctors’ appointments, Robert has been practically housebound for the past two years and, during that time, his weight had plummeted to concerning levels.
He said he has now reached a stage he never thought he would and has had to launch a crowd-funding campaign to cover the cost of further medical tests and intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions that will help rebuild his frail body.
In May 2014, Robert was working with an environmental company, travelling all over the country. Around that time, the first signs of ill-health started to appear, though it would be another two years before Robert would receive his Lyme Disease diagnosis.
‘I remember having a violent virus/bug so I went to bed early. Not long after I woke up and felt like I was going to get sick so I ran for the toilet,’ explained Robert.
‘I don’t remember much after that as I blacked out and my mother found me lying on the floor unresponsive. It took me some time to recover and come too but, with the help of my parents, they got me going again. After a call to the Care Doc, they said just drink plenty of fluids and rest until it passes.
‘A few days later when I had come too a bit I got a ringing in my right ear and the peripheral sight in my right eye turned pink. Long story short: after examination by amazed and confused eye specialists, they found that I had had a mini-stroke. A blood clot had formed behind my right eye and stopped the blood supply to part of my eye, making me lose peripheral vision in that side which, to this day, hasn’t returned.
‘As bad as it sounds, I’m grateful not to have lost more sight or even have had a full blown stroke. I was then referred to heart specialists and others to find why I had had a TIA (mini-stroke) to which none could find an answer,’ he said.
Once all the tests showed up clear, Robert returned to normal life, none the wiser.
Another two years passed and Robert was on the cusp of a great change in his life. He had just finished working with the environmental company and was on a two-week break before starting to build up his own 2D animation and illustration company.
He had been working in this area in his spare time and had started to get some freelance work, which he hoped to turn into a full-time career.
Unfortunately, he was rushed to hospital with a severe pain in his chest. Tests again returned as clear and, over the months that followed, Robert was rushed to hospital seven times with the same symptoms.
In October 2016, Robert was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, a bacterial illness spread by ticks. Just one tick bite can infect a person, and the illness is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Known as ‘the great imitator’, Lyme Disease often mirrors the symptoms of many other conditions.
Since his diagnosis, Robert has been living at home in Tinahely with his parents, Jim and Eilish, and his brothers, and has undergone treatment which left him bedridden for over six months.
Despite living with daily chronic pain, being unable to eat or sleep, Robert, who said he is usually very private, felt the time has come for him to share his story.
‘I live every day in pain, I’m now unable to eat much, if anything, I don’t sleep, I don’t have any energy and I’m basically just existing. My weight is scarily low right now as you can see in the photo and that’s why I’ve had to reluctantly start this (fundraising) page,’ he said.
‘I’m very private and usually don’t tell anyone or talk about having this disease but now I’m forced to. If I can’t eat for much longer then the obvious and inevitable will happen. I need positive and realise his dream of growing his ‘Craic House Animations’ business.
‘I don’t see the last two years as lost – I’ve learned a lot in that time about myself and being grateful for what I have, even if that’s just being able to stand on two feet. Before all this began, things were looking up as I had started YouTube and Facebook pages and began cartoon animations, which is something I’ve always loved to do. I had a lot of opportunities offered which I’ve had to decline but I hope to get back to it as soon as I can. I now draw and illustrate whenever I can so at least I have that – it keeps my mind occupied as well as improving my drawing skill,’ he said.
Robert said that he would be lost without his family, friends and the wider community, who have supported him throughout this ordeal.
‘I’ve no doubt in my mind I’ll make a full recovery. I just have to keep looking ahead. There’s
I’VE NO DOUBT IN MY MIND I’LL MAKE A FULL RECOVERY. I JUST HAVE TO KEEP LOOKING AHEAD
to raise money for specialist treatment; for further scans and tests to ensure my organs aren’t damaged and are working correctly; for intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions to rebuild my body; and for supplements and herbal remedies to support my recovery.’
Robert is determined to stay no point looking back, feeling sorry for myself, that’ll never get me anywhere, especially not back to full health,’ he said.
To support Robert’s campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/helprobertsrecovery or donate directly to IBAN: IE24 BOFI 9003 1613 4502 03, BIC: BOFIIE2D
Tinahely man Robert Nolan before he fell ill (above) and (right) as he is now as he continues his recovery from Lyme Disease.