Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Group B Streptococcus

A pregnancy, labour and the birth of a new baby is a magical experience.
When you hold your newborn in your arms for the very first time you hope to love, cherish and protect him/her forever but sadly some infants grow their angel wings earlier than others.

I recently spoke to a young woman who kindly agreed to an interview with me.
Her son contracted Group B Streptococcus otherwise known as GBS.
He fought the condition as long as he could but his tiny body eventually shut down.
(her name/age and other personal details are kept private due)


The Interview:

Was your pregnancy normal or were there any complications?
A very normal pregnancy.
I was consultant led but only because of previous miscarriages and I have sticky blood syndrome.
I had no sickness, no back ache, nothing.

Was your labour normal or were there any complications?
My labour was far from normal.
I went into labour on the Friday.
The pains got worse over night so I went to hospital on the Saturday morning and was only 1cm.
The midwife did another sweep to move things along and I then poured with blood, she said it was normal but it certainly wasn't.
I got sent home and went back up again on Saturday night where I was only 3cm. The pain was awful so I had Pethadine and Gas & Air and I was sent to the ward to sleep.
I didn't sleep at all, I went through 3 canisters of gas and air.
I got examined about midnight and was only 5/6cm, they decided to move me to the delivery suite as I wanted an epidural as couldn't cope.
Finally I got the epidural about 5 in the morning but still to this point I was only 6cm.
They kept checking me and I wasn't progressing so they gave me the drip to try and move things along.
Just before 9am the midwife came in and noticed my unborn son's heart rate was very, very low so she examined me and while she was doing that his heart rate went back up but as soon as she removed her hand his heart rate dropped again.
She called the doctors and they pressed the emergency button.
Within seconds there was a team of 15 in the room.
They then said "we need to rush you for a section now" and off I went and I was put to sleep through it all.

When did you first notice a problem with your child?
From day one he was grunting and I was concerned and medical staff reassured me that it was just mucus because of the section.
We came home when he was a week old and we went to the doctors numerous times as I knew there was something wrong but couldn't put my finger on it.

How was this addressed by the medical team?
The medical team brushed me off every single time!!
We saw in total 8 medical staff and every single one said "he is fine" but I knew he certainly wasn't fine!

When and why was your child taken to hospital by ambulance?
He was 4 weeks and 4 days when he was rushed into hospital.
We had an ambulance out on the Friday morning and they said "he is fine just see your GP" so we had an appointment for 3 hours later and he was that bad that he was put on oxygen in the surgery.
He was rushed in with suspected broncolitis.

How was the condition treated in hospital?
We had a paediatric team waiting for us in A&E.
They administered antibiotics, cannulas and catheter straight away.
He was kept on oxygen to try help him. He was also on a drip as he'd stopped eating on the Thursday night.

When was your child diagnosed with Group B Streptococcus?
We didn't get the diagnoses of GBS until the Monday so he had been in hospital 3 days at that point.
They said he had GBS, meningitis, septicaemia and went into septic shock.

What was the cause of this condition?

How did your child develop a brain injury?
Meningitis caused swelling to his brain which then caused the damage.

At what age did your child sadly pass away?
At age 6 weeks and 1 day.

Later, you became aware of the swab during pregnancy that could detect GBS, but you were not offered this during your pregnancy.
How did that make you feel?
I knew I had GBS the day before he passed away, I can remember wanting to kill all the midwives that had taken care of my during my pregnancy. (strong words but this is how I felt).
I would never have known I had GBS if I didn't have ongoing discharge problems in Addenbrooks which meant the picu team then sent me to maternity.

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in this situation?
I would tell them not to take any risks at all and have the test done!
Wether it means spending £100's of pounds at least their baby would be safe!

What advice would you give other parents/guardians on how to deal with grief?
I'm not sure I can really give advice on grief as I still don't know how I feel....maybe just go along with every emotion.

What additional information can you share in regards to GBS?
1 in 4 pregnant ladies carry GBS without knowing.
There is a 1 in 300 chance of your baby contracting GBS if you have it and are not given the antibiotics in labour.
If you do get the antibiotics in labour this number then drops to 1 in 6000 chance of your baby contracting it.
GBS lives inside 25% of healthy ladies; normally in their vagina and intestines.
There is an early onset GBS and a late onset GBS in newborns.
The early onset GBS is when a baby contract the infection from birth to 6 days old.
THE late onset GBS is when the baby gets the infections from 7 days old onwards.
It's rare for a baby to have a GBS infection after 4 weeks old and extremely rare for a baby to contract is after 3 months old.
GBS can cause meningitis, pneumonia, septicaemia and septic shock in newborns.


Help & Support:


GBS Grief Support

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Child's Heart

A Child's Heart:

A pregnancy and a birth is a magical experience for any mother.

When Caitlin and Rachel introduced their beautiful baby boy Beau to the world, everything was perfect...
Except unbeknown to them was a little secret "Beau's Heart"

When little Beau was just a few weeks old he began having difficulties with his breathing which was later diagnosed as Bicuspid Aortic Value.

One of Beau's mother's (Caitlin) kindly agreed to an interview with me so as to help raise awareness of Beau's condition.


The Interview:

What is your name and age?
My name is Caitlin and I'm 52.

What is your wife's name and age?
My wife's name is Rachel and she is 28.

What is your son's name and age?
Rachel gave birth to our son Beau who is now 15 weeks old.

Did Rachel have a normal pregnancy or were there any complications?
It was a normal pregnancy, no complications.

Did Rachel have a normal labour or were there any complications?
Labour was natural delivery at 40 weeks and 2 days, Rachel had just gas and air plus some help from the kiwi device.

What did Beau weigh at birth?
Beau weighed 7pounds 4oz at birth.

Please explain in full detail the issues which made you aware of Beau's problems with his heart:
Beau was absolutely fine until he was 5 weeks 3 days old. Rachel went to put him in the high chair to go out and noticed his lips and tongue were blue his eyes were glazed he was very hot and clammy his breathing was very fast he was really responding so we called ambulance.

Beau was taken to Derby Hospital by ambulance, how was his condition treated?
Derby A&E thought he had some kind of chest infection he came back round with oxygen.
He was moved to dolphin ward and they came to scan his heart and found he had coarctation of the aorta and fluid around his heart.

Due to a second episode of Beau struggling to breath he was transfered to PICU at Glenfield Hospital, how was his condition treated there?
From Derby he was blue lighted by ambulance with a doctor and a nurse to Glenfield where they took him straight in to have the fluid drained from around his heart.
He was in intensive care and had the arch widened 2 days later.
4 days later he moved to ward 30 the paediatric heart ward.
He was discharged 2 days later.

What was Beau diagnosed with?
He was diagnosed with bicuspid aortic valve.
Moderate to severe aortic valvular stenosis.
Coarctation of and hypoplastic aortic arch impaired ventricular function. Previous pericardial effusion.

Is the condition hereditary?
No its not hereditary although there are a lot of heart problems in the family.
He had pericardial effusion on 20th april and coarctation repair with end to end anastomosis, pda ligation via left thoracotomy on 22nd April.

How was the diagnosis made?
He was diagnosed by echocardiogram

What surgery has Beau undergone?
Will Beau need more surgery?
He currently has narrowing of aorta so requires a balloon angioplasty  soon this is provisionally booked for 12th july
Beau is on medication for his condition, we have to monitor his breathing closely, he is currently unwell with a tummy bug which we have to get him checked at doctors or hospital in case it puts any added pressure on his heart.
He also needs increased calories so is prescribed sma high energy as he burns the calories quicker than a healthy baby of his age.

What is Beau's prognosis for the future?
Prognosis is good but he will need regular reviews and follow ups by Glenfield regular echo scans he may need further intervention as he gets bigger.

What support was available to you and your family?
We have had a lot of support from Glenfield ward 30 and the cardiac liason nurses in outpatients.
Also his GP Dr Pollock has been brilliant and health visitor Emma.

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in a similar situation?
I would give the advice of although it's a horrendous thing to see your child unwell the wonders of modern science and technologies means they can do so much now to help tiny babies.
Babies are so much more resilient than u think.
You are not alone.


Help & Support:


Beau's GoFundMe Page:

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Babysitter From Hell

Sian Regal and Sean Walther were new first-time parents to their handsome son Coby Walther.

Like all new parents they were tired and stressed but very happy too.
They arranged for Sean's sister Jessica Miles along with her partner Adam Boardman to babysit.

They didn't just randomly select a person they didn't know, they left their child with someone they loved and trusted.

However, Jessica's partner Adam unpremeditated an assault on Coby's tiny and defenceless body, causing actual bodily harm and leaving Coby near to death.

Here, Coby's mother Sian has kindly agreed to an interview with me in relation to the assault on her baby boy Coby.


What is your name and age?
Sian Regal 27

What is your partner's name and age? Sean Walther 26

What is your son's name and age?
Coby Walther 6

On a rare night off from parenting duties so as to spend time as a couple, who was responsible for taking care of Coby? Coby's aunty, Jessica Miles and her partner Adam Boardman

When you next saw Coby what was your initial reaction?
I didn't think.
I just grabbed Coby put him in the car and told Sean to keep talking to him and to try keep him awake, while I drove to the hospital.
It was all a blur

What injuries did Coby sustain?
Coby sustained severe bruising to the face and head, subdural brain haemorrhaging, a perforated ear drum, retinal damage, a fractured humerus and multiple rib fractures on both side

How were Coby's injuries dealt with and treated in hospital?
Coby received a cranioptomy which requires half of his skull being removed to accommodate the swelling of his brain.
He was placed into an induced coma and his body cooled

How long was Coby hospitalised for?
He was in intensive care for 3 weeks and in the ward for 2 months

When was Adam Boardman arrested and charged with the assault on Coby?
May 19 2010

What was Adam Boardman's sentencing in court?
He was sentenced all up 10 years with 6 and a half years in prison and 3 and a half years parole

As a result of Coby's injuries what is his prognosis for the future?
It is still to hard to tell but as it stands now he has no use of his left hand, he can use it to stabilise things but he does have difficulty.
He receives botox every 6 months to help with the tightness in his left arm and leg. He is also doing occupational therapy to help him overcome his obstacles that he encounters.
He will always have the left-sided weakness and physical impairment causing permanent difficulties with physical function as he grows.

Why does Coby need to attend a "special school" and not a "regular school"?
Coby has been diagnosed as moderate intellectual disability and also with his physical disabilities he needs more attention, which he gets at his special needs school

You mentioned how you'd like to do fundraising, what is that for?
I had hoped to raise funds to buy and to train a dog to be a companion dog for Coby to help with his meltdowns.
I was able to buy a dog "woofy" for Coby with money already fundraised for Coby through his gofundme page.
I was also hoping to fundraise just for the special things Coby requires that is not covered by funding as in;
*All the extra pairs of shoes he needs as he wears a pair down in a matter of weeks due to the dragging of his left leg. *The petrol that's needed to be going back and fourth to and from the hospital for appointments,
*The private swimming lessons,
*A specially modified bike for Coby to ride,
*To make a sensory friendly room for
Coby to help with his meltdowns.

"Coby requires just all them little things and its difficult to be able to provide all these things with my own finances alone"

How is the relationship between your partner and his sister since?
There is no relationship anymore

If you could write a message to Adam Boardman what would you say?
I would ask him why??!!!

"How could you do this to a defenceless little baby let alone someone else's child. You have left Coby to deal with the repercussions of what you done to him for the rest of his life.
This has not only put a great deal of pressure on him but me and Sean and also Coby's family having to see him struggle to do things that he should be able to do, to see him get so frustrated and have meltdowns because he wants to do something.
No matter how hard we try sometimes we just can't understand  how you get to "get out of jail" and get on with your life while
Coby will struggle for the rest of his life"

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in similar situations? Take it day by day, week by week.
Be strong for your children because they need you, they can teach you so much and show you just how strong you are. Children are incredible and even when faced with these hard challenges still seem to be able to smile.


Help & Support:


Coby's GoFundMe Page:

Please make a donation.
Big or small, every little helps to bring a smile to a little boy's face


Adam Boardman - publication:


Multicentric Infantile Myofibromatosis

Multicentric Infantile Myofibromatosis:

What is your name and age?
My name is Laura Flake and I'm 24

What is your son's name and age?
My son's name is Jacob Light and he's 2 in September

Did you have a normal pregnancy or were there complications?
I had a normal pregnancy with no complications

Did you have a normal labour or were there complications?
I had a normal labour apart from when he was born

When did you first notice that Jacob was crying but there was no sound?
I first noticed Jacob was crying when he was seconds born but couldn't tell as he had no sound

Why did Jacob need help with his breathing?
Because he had a tumour in his neck which was restricting him from swallowing and breathing and high risk of choking.

After being transferred to another hospital, a lump was found on Jacob's neck.
Scans revealed more on his ground and ribs.
What was Jacob diagnosed with?
Jacob was diagnosed with a very rare condition called Multicentric Infantile Myofibromatosis

What was the cause of this condition?
We still didn't get down to the bottom of what actually caused this condition.

Is it hereditary?
No it's not hereditary

How did the doctors treat this condition?
They started Jacob on a small weekly dose of chemotherapy and then a higher dose of chemotherapy every 2 weeks for a year.

Was there any side effects?
Jacob had a lot of side effects to the chemotherapy he had a low immune system which caused chest infections, he also was tired all the time and the chemotherapy made Jacob vomit a lot.

When and what was Jacob's first word?
Jacobs first word was 'mumma' it was in hospital when he was about 10 months old.

How has Jacob's development been since?
Jacob has come such a long way since he had the tumours, Jacob is behind in his development for his age but he is getting there with the help of physiotherapy and portage.

What is Jacob's prognosis for the future?
At the moment it's just to keep an eye on him and have regular scans and to make sure the time mourns do not re grow.

What advice would you give other parents/guardians in similar situations?
My advice would be to talk to people don't just take one person's word on it.
Look into the condition a little more, then you'll have a better picture.
When Jacob was diagnosed with this rare condition I didn't have a clue what it was or why he had it.
I had no one to talk to about it so the reason for me to raise awareness for this condition is so if anyone was to have a similar condition like Jacobs I'm there to help and support them and there families.


Help & Support:

Monday, 13 June 2016

Isabella "Amazing" Grace Proctor

Isabella Grace Proctor is an "Amazing" gift from God.

Despite being alone and frightened upon hearing the news that her beautiful baby would be born with Downs Syndrome (trisomy 21), she fought against all odds and her "Amazing" baby girl arrived on July 2nd 2014.

Despite Isabella's health conditions she is just like any other little girl her age.


Isabella's Facebook Page:

An Interview With Cristy Proctor:

What is your name and age?
Cristy Proctor

What is your daughter's name and age?
Isabella Grace Proctor
Almost 2, born July 2, 2014

Did you have a normal pregnancy or were there any complications?
High risk pregnancy due to being over 35. I also had extremely low levels of magnesium and potassium and required weekly infusions and was admitted every weekend for the last 2 months of my pregnancy.

When did you become aware that your unborn baby would be diagnosed with Down's Syndrome?
22 weeks of pregnancy

What was your initial reaction upon hearing this news?
I was very shocked, mainly due to the way I received the news. 
I had went in for what was to be "routine" check-up.
The nurse called me back to check me in and do my vital signs.
She went on to tell me that during my last visit they had ordered several blood tests, one being a harmony test which had come back showing a 1:5 chance of my baby being born with Ds.
I asked her why this test had been done, as I had refused it.
She did not have an answer for me.
She went on to say that they were referring me to a high risk doctor for further testing and that they would have to get me in right away in case I wanted to terminate my pregnancy. Terminate????? Why???
I wasn't given any other information, just sent away with what may or may not be.
I was terrified.
I had no idea what DS was, nor had I ever met anyone with DS.

How was the diagnosis made?
I went to see a genetics counselor at the high risk doctors office.
They did an ultrasound and found markers on her heart as well as small leg bone growth.
I chose to have an amnio that day to confirm.
I knew, for me, I needed confirmation.
I'm a planner and needed to plan.
I wanted knowledge and that day I had none.
Just prior to the amnio, my friend grabbed my hand, and told the doctor "hold on, we are gonna pray".
And pray she did!
She asked God to show us his mighty hand at work, to use this unborn child as his servant, that no matter what the test showed that He was in control, that this child would be perfect in God's eyes. During the amnio, something miraculous happened.
We watched on the monitor as the doctor slowly began to insert the needle into my abdomen....and it happened...she reached right up and grabbed the needle and pulled really hard, not once, but twice!
My doctor was amazed.
He couldn't believe what he was seeing.
It was like she was saying "hey I am here, I know what is a head of me and I am ready!
I am a warrior!"
My doctor said he had never seen anything like it.

Your baby arrived 6 weeks early and spent 16 days in NICU, what was the process of her care there?
I had an emergency C-section because her heart was "non-reactive" on the monitor, which was concerning them. When she was born she was only 4 lbs 5 oz, but perfect in every sense.
They ordered genetic testing to confirm her diagnosis of DS.
While in NICU, she struggled to eat and required a nasal feeding tube until she learned to suck and swallow.

11 days after being discharged and while at home, your daughter suddenly stopped breathing but you gave her mouth-to-mouth, she was then air lifted to hospital, please explain in detail the Gtube and the Open Heart Surgery?
Izzy developed viral spinal meningitis and was in the PICU for 18 days.
She was able to go home for a few days only to be re-admitted again for heart failure.
Our goal was for her to get to at least 10 lbs prior to having OHS.
However, her heart could not keep up. Simple tasks of drinking a bottle would cause too much stress on her heart. Which is why we chose to have the gtube placed.
Unfortunately, we had no option but to move forward with surgery on September 22, 2014.
Her heart was too weak and could not wait any longer.

There are 3 types of Down's Syndrome
Trisomy 21
Which one is your daughter diagnosed with?
Isabella has Trisomy 21

Is Down's Syndrome hereditary?
Most cases of Down syndrome are not inherited.
When the condition is caused by trisomy 21, the chromosomal abnormality occurs as a random event during the formation of reproductive cells in a parent.
The abnormality usually occurs in egg cells, but it occasionally occurs in sperm cells.
An error in cell division called nondisjunction results in a reproductive cell with an abnormal number of chromosomes.
For example, an egg or sperm cell may gain an extra copy of chromosome 21.
If one of these atypical reproductive cells contributes to the genetic makeup of a child, the child will have  an extra chromosome 21 in each of the body's cells.
People with translocation Down syndrome can inherit the condition from an unaffected parent.
The parent carries a rearrangement of genetic material between chromosome 21 and another chromosome.
This rearrangement is called a  balanced translocation.
No genetic material is gained or lost in a balanced translocation, so these chromosomal changes usually do not cause any health problems.
However, as this translocation is passed to the next generation, it can become unbalanced.
People who inherit an unbalanced translocation involving chromosome 21 may have extra genetic material from chromosome 21, which causes  Down syndrome.
Like trisomy 21, mosaic Down syndrome is not inherited.
It occurs as a random event during cell division early in fetal development.
As a result, some of the body's cells have the usual two copies of chromosome 21, and other cells have three copies of this chromosome.

Apart from your daughter falling into the category of approximately 47% of Down's Syndrome children who have a heart condition, does she have any other medical issues?
She has hypothyroidism, chronic lung disease, low muscle tone.

Does your daughter require a "special" type of paediatrician?

What is your daughter's prognosis for the future in regards to abilities and achievements?
I have to admit this question cut straight to the heart.
The definition of prognosis: the likely course of a disease or ailment.
The world's prognosis:
Down Syndrome Prognosis
Several factors affect a person's Down syndrome prognosis, including other medical conditions that can occur because of this developmental disability.

Now here is my take on it.
First and foremost, individuals with DS are all different just like everyone else. For myself or anyone else to put a "prognosis" on them, I feel would be limiting their capabilities.
Izzy has defied the odds over and over again.
Before even being born, she was facing a possible death sentence (however termination was never an option for me); meningitis; heart failure; lung disease. Countless times I wondered, "will I lose her". 
So now, each day is a gift.
Each and every milestone met is a victory and the ones not met are goals and never defeat!
Do we have challenges? Of course, but so does every family raising a two year old.

Please explain in detail about the "angel in the photograph"?
On the anniversary of the DS diagnosis, I reposted about my experience and sharing her sonogram picture.
One of our followers pointed out that it looked like the face of an angel also in the picture.
I had never noticed it before and it really resonated with my spirit.
I felt as though God had been trying to show me something from that very first day that he was with us and that everything would be just fine.
Please keep in mind, I was going through this alone.
Izzy's birth father was no longer in the picture and all I had was my faith in God and in those early days of the diagnosis, I was desperate for any hope and full of mixed emotions...fear being my driving force, until my faith overpowered fear and God took over.

Please explain in detail about the Isabella 'Amazing' Grace - My Down Syndrome Journey Facebook page?
I remember being with Izzy in the PICU and one of her doctors came in and just started staring at her, not in a bad way. She then spoke up and apologized and said "I really don't know how to explain it, there is just something about her.
Every time I look at her, a sense of peace just completely fills me."
I felt as though God had extended so much of his amazing grace upon our life already that I needed to share that with others.
I wanted the world to see that life may have uncertainties but his grace is amazing and it is sufficient for us.

What advice would you give other new parents/guardians of a Down's Syndrome child?
Let your child be your guide.
Doctors and books and all the information in the world will never teach you the things your child will.
Remember your baby is a blessing, enjoy those early moments, they grow up so quickly!
Focus on the present.
Connect with other families that also have a child with DS.
Be your child's voice.
And of Course....

Welcome to Holland -
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans.
The Coliseum.
The Michelangelo David.
The gondolas in Venice.
You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.
It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands.
The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan.
They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease.
It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks.
And you must learn a whole new language.
And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would have met.
It's just a different place.
It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.
But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.
By Emily Perl Kingsley


Help & Support:

Youthreach Kiltimagh

Youthreach Kiltimagh
Balla Road
Co Mayo

Tel: 094-93-81338


Kiltimagh Further Education Centre otherwise know as Youthreach Kiltimagh is a centre aimed at early school leavers.
It gives them a second chance at education.

The Head of Centre / Coordinator Kathy Doherty kindly agreed to an interview with me.


What is the name of the Youthreach?
Youthreach Kiltimagh

When was it established?

What is your location?
Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, Ireland

What age group is it aimed at?
16 - 20 years old

What subjects do you offer?
English, Irish, Maths, Home Economics, CSPE, SPHE, Metalwork, Woodwork, ICT (Information Communication Technology), Spanish, Engineering, Graphics and Construction, HCT (Hotel, Catering and Tourism), Mechanics, Hair and Beauty, Leisure and Recreation, Vocational Preparation and work experience, Social Education and Enterprise

What is the purpose of Youthreach?
Youthreach gives students a second chance to get an Education.
It offers young people the opportunity to identify options within adult life, and provides them with opportunities to acquire certification.

Who is the head teacher?
Head of centre / Coordinator: Kathy Doherty
Resource Person : Peter Flanagan

How will Youthreach benefit a young person?
From taking part in the youthreach course we aim that the young person experiences success throughout the programme and actively participate in their education
• Personal, social and educational development.
• Promoting independence, personal autonomy and a pattern of lifelong learning.
• Integration into further education and training opportunities.
• Promoting active citizenship and social inclusion.

What exams are taken?
Junior Certificate
Leaving Certificate Applied

When do the exams take place?
Junior cert - practicals - before June and written exams - June
LCA - practicals and orals leading up to June written exam and final exams in June.
LCA is assessed on work completed with the course over the four terms (session 1 - 4) and is awarded the credits if they have 90% attendance (these are called key assignments).
LCA students do two subjects that they specialise in and in these subjects they get examined by an external examiner for tasks they complete in these subjects. other subjects also have tasks for example the Practical achievement task in year 2. The results of their leaving cert is the Key assignments + task scores + practical / oral scores + exam results and they are awarded a pass, merit or distinction

Who grades the exams?
External examiners appointed by the SEC (State Examinations Commission)

When are the results received?
At the end of each session into the next session the students will find out how they got on and gradually get through the 3 terms.
Finally after completing the 4th term (leaving cert year) they get the results in August of that year.
The Junior certs will get their results in September

What qualifications are awarded?
Level 3 - junior certificate
Level 4  - Leaving certificate applied

Can work be obtained through the qualifications alone?
Yes, after completing a leaving certificate but the requirements for many jobs are requiring further study.
Further study advancing on would always be promoted and students are advised in areas where their strengths lie.

What further education / training can a young person go on to achieve?
Typically after completing the level 4 they tend to go on to PLC courses to do a level 5 and then advance onto college. The young person can go onto achieve anything they wish as they are many different routes that can be taken. There is a girl I know who attended a youthreach centre in the west of Ireland and who is now studying for her doctorate (PhD) in Trinity College Dublin and holds down a permanent lecturing Job.

What are the rates of pay per person?
Under 16 & 17 - 40 euro + travel depending on miles from the centre
18 years plus - 160 euro + miles from the centre

What are the rates of travel allowance and who is eligible?
People over 16 not living in Kiltimagh
0-3 miles= 0 euro per week
3-5 = 4.60
5-10 = 11.90
10-20= 17.60
20-30 = 21.60
30-40= 27.70
40-50 = 32.60

How do you promote your service?
Social networking - facebook and twitter.
Meeting directly with school principals.
Printing leaflets.



Kiltimagh Website:

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hypopituitarism, Hypithyroisism & Osteoarthritis

This is one brave young woman's fight against pain on a daily basis, told to me via interview.


What is your name and age?
My name is Carol Pocknall
I'm 41yrs old.

When were you diagnosed with hypopituitarism?
I was diagnosed with hypopituitarism in April 2015

How was a diagnosis made?
The diagnosis was made via blood tests at the hospital but as there are many elements to the condition I then had further glucagon and insulin stress tests plus a brain scan (MRI)

What symptoms did you / do you have?
The symptoms I had were;
Extreme tiredness
Muscle weakness - couldn't even raise my arms at times
Muscle pain - hips, knees and made my osteoarthritis in my spine worse
Nausea if standing for more than a couple of minutes
Light headedness
Sever headaches
Rapid weight loss - not eating due to the nausea
Lactating even though not, or never have been pregnant
Menstrural cycle totally stopped although not pregnant
Always felt cold - the exact opposite to what I always had been
Passing water more often
Confusion (brain fog) loosing track of conversations, can't find the words I want and not 'computing' what people say
Just generally feeling run down

What causes this condition?
The cause is often a tumour on the pituitary gland (hence I had the MRI) or trauma to the glad.
I have neither so my cause is unknown.

Is there a cure?
There is no cure

Is it hereditary?
It is not hereditary

Are you prescribed medication?
Yes I am prescribed medication.
I have to take steroids (hydrocortisone) three times a day due to my pituitary gland not producing cortisol.
The steroids keep my alive.
Without them I will go into adrenal crisis and could loose my life.
I am on the steroids for the rest of my life.
I have to be careful if I become unwell as cortisol levels will drop so have to increase the steroids.
I have to wear a medical ID.
I also have to inject growth hormone everyday as again, due to the pituitary gland not working I do not produce growth hormone. (Yes I am fully grown but the growth hormone is needed for general well-being, it helps with the fatigue and muscle weakness) I will have to inject for the rest of my life.

What treatment have you received?
No treatment is available, just the medication

How has this condition affected your life?
It has affected my life massively.
Continuous hospital appointments and blood tests.
Can no longer work full-time due to the muscle weakness and pain and fatigue.
Always tired, often need a sleep during the day.
Can't walk as far as I used to - a 'day out' wears me out.
Have to pace myself so I can get through the day.
Feeling stupid when I can't keep up with conversations or blurt out rubbish as I can't find the words I want and anything comes out it it's place.
As an example, I once asked my husband to spray candy floss around the bathroom, I of course meant air freshener.
I also told my brother there was an Eskimo in the fridge for him - I meant a (chocolate) eclair.
Feeling down about weight gain (I know I said weight loss in symptoms but now I'm on medication I've gained a lot of weight)
Not as confident as I used to be.

What advice would you give others recently diagnosed with this condition?
I can understand people being frightened when you're told you have a life threatening condition but there is a huge difference between life threatening and terminal, don't let it make you live in fear.
If you feel unwell, tell your endocrinologist (endo) just because your blood tests may be in range, it could be that you need to be at the higher end of the range so need higher doses of medications - listen to your body.

When were you diagnosed with hypothyroidism?
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in April 2015

How was a diagnosis made?
The diagnosis was made via blood tests

What symptoms did you / do you have?
I had all the symptoms as in question 4 but did not realise it was two different conditions.
After diagnosis I learned that the extreme tiredness and later weight gain was down to hypothyroidism

What causes this condition?
Hypopituaritism caused my hypothyroidism

Is it hereditary?
It is not hereditary

Are you prescribed medication?
Yes I take thyroxine daily.
I will need this for the rest of my life.

What treatment did you receive?
No treatment, just the medication

When were you diagnosed with osteoarthritis?
I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2008 ( can't remember the month) after 17yrs of being told there was nothing wrong with me!

How was a diagnosis made?
Diagnosis was made by x-ray (on my spine)

What symptoms did you / do you have?
Excruciating back pain, sometimes preventing me from walking

Is it hereditary?
It is not hereditary

Is there a cure?
There is not a cure

What is the cause of this condition?
General wear and tear

Are you prescribed medication?
I am prescribed medication on an 'as and when I need' basis.
During bad flare ups I have co-codamol (30mg codine) arcoxia and if it's really bad also diazepam.
As much as possible I try to not take medication or self medicate with 'off the shelf ' paracetamol and used to ibuprofen but I now can not take these due to the steroids.
Being in pain 24/7 becomes the norm and you learn to live with it to a certain degree and not rely on the meds.

What treatment have you received?
No treatment.
My spine has tried to repair itself and grown a spur.
A bone spur is an extra growth of bone but it doesn't necessarily grow where it should!
Mine is growing into my nerves (yes that is as painful as it sounds).
I have been told I can have surgery to remove the spur but it will grow back.


Help & Support: