A TULLOW man has spoken of days that he cannot get out of bed due to excruciating pain after waiting on a knee replacement for more than two-and-a-half years.
Noel Byrne from Oakley Glen has also sought counselling for depression brought on by his severe arthritis.
The 53-year-old is currently waiting on a double-knee replacement at Tallaght Hospital and was stunned to discover recently that his orthopaedic surgeon has been out sick for over two months and has not been replaced.
“You’d think if there was a major surgeon sick or on holidays they’d have someone to come in. This man has to operate at two hospitals, Tallaght and Naas,” he said. “Not to have a replacement for major surgery like that is unbelievable. Whether they don’t have the money or not, I don’t know.”
The Tullow man was full of praise for the staff at Tallaght Hospital but believes there is something seriously wrong within the HSE.
Noel has been out of work for a year due to his condition, having worked all his life since the age of 14.
Arthritis had changed his life and he now gets around with the aid of two walking sticks.
“I can’t drive. To walk up the stairs is complete and utter torture … to walk at all, basically,” he said. “It’s hard to explain the pain. When you have weight on them it’s like someone sticking a knife right into you. You are afraid to walk. There are days you can’t get out of bed.”
Things he loved doing, like going to watch a match at Parkville United, play a round of golf or go for a pint are just no longer possible.
Noel also suffers from high blood pressure and an overactive thyroid gland. He is on 30 to 35 tablets a day for his various conditions.
About six months ago, Noel sought counselling for depression because of the pain and stress brought on by his condition.
“It would just drag you down,” he said. “It’s the first time I have been out of work in 40 years. I have been working since the age of 14.”
Noel believes things would be even worse without the tremendous support of his family, wife Catherine and children Jason and Rachel.
In July of last year, Noel was informed that he would be getting his operation by the end of 2016 but it was delayed without an explanation. He also had a pre-operative assessment carried out four months ago but still has no indication of when he will be operated on. It was on one of his many phone calls to the admissions office at Tallaght Hospital that he learned his surgeon has been on sick leave for the past ten weeks and not replaced.
“It’s a standstill, the last two months. That means there is going to be a build up and extra wait for someone else. It’s just crazy,” he added.
***The Nationalist*** queried the HSE on the status of the orthopaedic service at Tallaght Hospital. The HSE declined to specifically answer whether a replacement surgeon had been provided at Tallaght.
In a statement, it said: “Tallaght Hospital has an extensive orthopaedic service. The hospital is endeavouring to ensure patients are seen in a timely manner and regrets the delay patients have experienced.
“Extended sick leave by medical staff is covered where replacements for that specialty are available either on a full-time or part-time basis.”