A Waterford city woman has resorted to a fundraiser to help pay for modifications worth €150,000 to her house so her fiancé can come home.
John Upton (45), from Larchville, was rushed to hospital with a severe headache in December 2019 where doctors discovered a blood clot on his brain stem, leaving him unable to walk. He has spent much of the past year recovering in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, slowly regaining the ability to use his hands and speak, and will be allowed to leave care if his home is adapted for his needs.
His partner Caroline Foskin, who works as a cleaner, is launching the GoFundMe campaign on Monday, with 50 local businesses and intercounty hurlers such as Austin Gleeson pledging support so far.
As local authority tenants, they can receive €30,000 of the costs through an adaptation grant for the home, but the family must come up with the rest. The works will convert the sitting room and kitchen of the house into space specially designed for John, involving a wetroom, while also adapting the house’s tight doorways for his wheelchair. The remainder will go towards other care.
“Nobody has that kind of money,” said Caroline, speaking to thealongside the couple’s daughter Sarah.
John first reported feeling unwell on December 20, 2019. A painful headache grew worse, requiring him to be brought to University Hospital Waterford.
The last year has seen him travel between rehabilitation care in Dun Laoighaire and Galway, with his time in Dublin set to end in mid-March. He is showing signs of improvement, Caroline said, but he has a long way to go.
John has also repeatedly shown signs of his past self; from recalling scores of old games featuring his beloved Manchester United, to helping with household duties from his bed in Dún Laoghaire.
"I couldn't remember where we kept the light bulbs for one room so I had to ring John and he was able to tell me," Caroline said while laughing. “He’s improving the whole time.”
Seamus Barry, who works with Caroline, has helped coordinate the fundraiser appeal: “Could you imagine being somewhere during Covid and not being able to be with your family? And it’s bad to say but the reason for that is money — this campaign is to bring that object down and allow John to be with his family.”
Daughter Sarah said she has found it difficult to study for her Leaving Cert this year due to the family’s troubles but intends on studying accounting at Waterford IT next year so she can help with John’s recovery. She reckoned that there's only one thing for her parents to do once they get John home: "I think when he’s back and this is over they'll have to get married."
The GoFundMe campaign can be found here: