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

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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