A Galway mother of four sick children has pleaded for help after her husband died suddenly less than two months ago.
Aine Crosse, who lives in Kinvara, spoke to Joe Duffy on RTÉ Radio One on Wednesday about the tragedy that has befallen her in recent months, and the need for respite from her role as the primary carer for her children.
Aine’s husband, Gerry, who was just 51, had a massive heart attack on 17 June, leaving her to care for her four children.
Her eldest son Adam is 18 has lymphoma, and is going through chemotherapy. Her three other children have mitochondrial disease and are autistic.
Speaking to Joe, she said that her husband adored his children and would do anything for his family.
“It’s very hard wen you’re left alone with four children that are ill,” Aine said.
Adam was diagnosed with lymphoma in February – and Aine said that he’s doing okay, but that he is devastated about his father, who he tried to revive on the night he died.
Speaking about the mitochondrial disease her other children have, she said: “It is a degenerative disease of the muscles, the brain, the liver, the kidneys, the heart.
“So it’s kind of a time bomb but you have to just have to live with it. There’s nothing they can do, there’s no cure.
“And they’re also autistic – Lisa is severely autistic, she doesn’t sleep and she was hitting and the whole lot because her daddy was her carer and her lifeline and now he’s gone and she doesn’t understand.
“She keeps looking for him and therefore she doesn’t sleep at all,” she said.
Aine said that Lisa gets great support at school and that she has a great paediatrician. But she said that she needs respite as she is so tired.
“I’m bringing Adam to chemo, and I’m having to drag kids to chemotherapy with me and everything else because I can’t get respite – as children with special needs are invisible in this world.
“There’s no adequate financial support for them to get respite and it should be there because when situations like mine happen, which devastate families – there’s no help. There’s nothing.”
Aine has been offered just one hour a day of someone looking after the children – but she says this is not enough as the main problem is that Lisa is not sleeping.
“She sleeps for an hour and I’ll be up from between 2 and 4 and she’ll stay up all day,” she said.
“It’s a very lonely world when you’re sitting with your three children who have autism and your son has cancer and the love of your life has died.
“I was looking for at least two or three nights.
“Respite is like oxygen to a family with autism.”