'Our hearts were healed at the Mater Hospital'

By Brenda McCormick, Wednesday, 20th April 2016 | 0 comments

Sisters Fiona Guiheen and Mary-Jane Beckham are taking part in this year’s Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon for the Mater Hospital.

Mary-Jane’s story

I first developed palpitations when I was 16 years of age. I had them on and off but as the years went on I had three children and they became a lot worse. Everything changed in March 2014; I was out for the day shopping and the palpitations were so bad, my husband called an ambulance. That day was the turning point! They finally caught my palpitations on ECG and I was diagnosed with a condition called AVNRT (atrial ventricular nodal reentry tachycardia). I immediately knew that my sister Fiona had the same condition and we were finally able to put a name on it. I was put on medication to control the arrhythmias but as time went on the palpitations became even more severe. My daughter who was 7 at the time was shown how to call an ambulance and what to do if I fainted. The cardiology team was amazing; they kept in constant contact with me via phone and email and I finally had my procedure done. Dr Ted Keelin and his team worked so hard, that meant the world to me. My life has completely changed since the procedure; I have not had any palpitations since! Fiona had the same procedure successfully done nine months later. As a way of saying thank you, we will run the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon for the Mater hospital. I will be forever grateful to the Mater and the cardiology teams for fixing our hearts and changing our lives.

Fiona’s story

I’ve always had palpitations, since as far back as I can remember. I first really noticed they had gotten worse when I was pregnant with my first son but unfortunately the doctor couldn’t seem to diagnose what it was. After the birth of my 2nd child in 2009, they lasted for about two years. Then they eased off completely until I started exercising and they started to happen again. I decided to go to my doctor and really get it checked out this time but nothing showed up. She very quickly got me an appointment with Dr Hennessy in Ennis to get him to check it out. At the same time Mary-Jane had collapsed whilst out shopping with her children and in hospital they managed to catch her palpitation on ECG. Mary-Jane was more symptomatic than I was; she got a procedure done very quickly and was diagnosed with AVNRT. I was able to show Dr Hennessy Mary-Jane’s ECG and finally, after a two and a half year wait, I got the procedure done in February. I was also diagnosed with AVNRT. My experience in the Mater Hospital was such an amazing one. Mary-Jane and I promised each other that if we got better, we would do the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon as a way of saying thanks for all the work they do. We’re also doing it for our dad who had a heart attack a few months ago: we’re doing it for you Dad! We intend to complete it in under an hour so watch this space!