Our Member Martin Murtagh tells us about a time when he became disorientated and found himself at Belfast City Airport, then explains the difference the Herbert Protocol has made to his independence...
My name is Martin Murtagh, I’m a big football fan and I love spending time with my family. I go out with my four sons every Friday - we usually go to the snooker club. I have the best chat with my four sons and old friends.
What I've found with dementia is that sometimes when you’re out walking you get ideas in your head and think you’re okay. So you keep walking and then you get somewhere and don’t realise what you’re doing there. It’s very scary and panicky.
Shortly before my diagnosis, I went walking from my home in Belfast and – don’t ask me why – but I ended up at the airport. When I arrived, it hit me... “Why am I here? How did I get here?” It was like I’d walked there in a daze. All I could remember is aeroplanes flying over my head on the way, I was fascinated by that. Everything else was a blur. A panic set in and I broke out in a cold sweat. I remember people gathering around me and somebody saying, “You’ll be fine” then my son turning up – someone must’ve sent for him.
I was in shock when I got home that night. My son said, “Daddy, you could’ve ended up anywhere”. It breaks your heart. I felt like a child again. My sons were worried sick. It is frightening for my sons because the worst thoughts in the world enter your head when someone goes missing, especially at nighttime.
That's why I'm 100% behind the Herbert Protocol. It helps me to keep my independence and reassures me that should I ever go missing in the future, police will have the information they need to search for me right away.