Patient Stories

Bernadette Carroll

  • 24/09/2023
Bernadette Carroll

Had been in pain for 14 years. Then I was linked with an amazing surgeon in Spain. Now i will be able to live my life again’

Bernadette Carroll is in tears. But they are tears of joy, of relief, of happiness – tears after finally being heard and finally getting the surgery she had been fighting for these past 14 years. Her left foot was left mangled. The pain was so excruciating, she missed so many family occasions. She had to leave her daughter Tracey’s wedding early as she didn’t have shoes to fit her. Then she rang Healthcare Abroad and we found her a surgeon with magic hands who specialises in foot surgery.

This is Bernadette’s story:

“I’m from Co Laois originally but I have lived in Kildare Town for the past 46 years. I’m there long enough to be a Lillywhite! “I worked as a carer for the HSE for 30 years. I looked after our elderly neighbours as a home help, visiting them, washing them, getting them dressed and making them breakfast. I loved my job and I loved seeing those people every day. “In 2014 I began getting pains In the sole of my left foot. I was put on a list to see a surgeon but I didn’t get to see him. I saw another consultant who said I had knee problems. He said it wasn’t too bad and he’d see me in a few years’ time.

“I knew it wasn’t my knee. I knew it was my foot. I was getting sore all over. I remember being asked how I felt and I said it was like doing a day in the bog where you ache all over for a couple of days after except my aches continued relentlessly.

“I had x-rays. I was told my foot wasn’t bad enough (for surgery). I kept going until 2018. I would come home with one shoe in my hand. Then I just had to stop working. I just couldn’t keep going. “I had to give up the job I love. The families of those I looked after visited me and begged me to return to work but they saw that I couldn’t. So, I gave up a 30-year plus career with the HSE and went on invalidity benefit. I hated that. I wanted to work. I still miss it. “My clients loved me and I loved them. “But I couldn’t get anyone to help me fix my foot. I was even given an injection in my knee. I was told I had it wrong. I was even told I was depressed and I was actually given anti-depressants which I never ever
took. I threw those in the fire because I knew I wasn’t depressed. I was frustrated with the health system but I wasn’t depressed. “I was told again last year that I was ok, that they would look at my foot again this year. I was in excruciating pain. I wasn’t ok.

“Thank God a friend of mine mentioned the EU Cross Border scheme where I could go to another EU country for help. “My GP in Kildare Dr Michael Collins encouraged me to seek help and thankfully I got Chris at Healthcare Abroad. Well, that was the best decision I ever made. “I’m 66. I had lost 6 good years at work. I had been superfit because of my job and I lost all of that and put on weight. And finally, I was going to be seen by someone who could fix me.

“Healthcare Abroad met us at the airport, provided all the transport and booked a hotel and got the amazing Dr Carlos Morales to come to the HCB Hospital in Denia to look at my foot and, most amazingly of all, agreed to try to fix it. “My foot was mangled. You could see it on the x-ray. Dr Morales said he couldn’t believe I had been left so long to get fixed. He said he understood the pain I was in as soon as he saw the x-rays.

“I was pain-free from the moment I had the operation. Even when the medication wore off, I’ve had no pain. Dr Morales is a miracle man. I can’t thank him and the HCB Hospital team enough, including Dr van Rijn and Dr Henkel. “I will slowly learn to walk again over the coming months. I will be back to Denia with Healthcare Abroad next year to fix my right foot. That will be a minor operation in comparison but it is injured from compensating for the left foot these past few years. “I can’t wait to get back to normality. I am on top of the world now.

I am so happy. When I’m fixed, I’m going to go back to walking again. I will be joining the local walking club. And I will be back to my golf. I used to love pitch ‘n’ putt and had to give it up. I will be getting back to that too.

“Thank you to Chris and everyone at Healthcare Abroad. Thank you to all the carers and drivers. Thank you to Paul and the lovely people at Kildare Credit Union. Thank you so much to Dr Morales and everyone at the hospital in Denia. This means everything to me, and for my family.”

Bernadette Carroll travelled with the agency Healthcare Abroad to Denia in Spain’s Costa Blanca. She paid for her surgery and will get it reimbursed by the HSE under the 2014 EU Cross Border Directive, a law entitling all Irish citizens to travel to other EU countries for healthcare.