The BBC series, created by Brendan O’Carroll, who also plays the titular character Mrs Brown, is joined by members of his own family who play other characters. But recently, the show has not been able to keep up its peak viewing figures since its last full series aired on telly in 2013. Most recently, the show’s future has been cast into even further doubt as it was announced that Fiona O’Carroll, the real-life daughter of Brendan O’Carroll, had split from her husband and co-star Martin Delany – who plays Trevor Brown. In fact, the whole show has not had the best of luck off-screen, with actor Damien, who joined the cast in 2017, also battling personal demons.
The actor took over the role of Rory Brown during the 2017 Christmas special, after actor Rory Cowan, who originated the role, dramatically quit the production.
Despite his success on the show, Damien’s son was diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis, which caused heartbreak for his entire family.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, Damien explained: “He developed a very rare form of arthritis in his left leg, so rare that they didn’t know what it was.
“It’s never been recorded in Ireland or the UK before. There are only 60 cases worldwide.”
Although arthritis is a particularly common condition with more than 10 million people in the UK affected, rare forms such as the one Damien’s son has, can affect your entire life.
Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid, which both cause pain and inflammation of the joints. Usually people’s hands, spines, knees, hands and hips are affected.
The NHS explains that there are various other forms of arthritis, including:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Cervical spondylosis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Enteropathic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Secondary arthritis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica.
Depending on the type of arthritis someone has, symptoms will differ, meaning an accurate diagnosis is even more important.
This is something that Damien and his family experienced, as they struggled to get 13-year-old Theo the explanation he deserved.
“Eventually I said this was getting out of hand as his left leg was getting worse. I kicked up enough fuss and he got an operation just before Christmas,” Damien went on to explain.
“We stayed in hospital with him for a couple of weeks and we’ve been doing rehab with him ever since. I went to get him out of bed in May and it went into his right leg, the hospital were in shock.
“He had the second operation on his right leg in June. The right leg was stronger, the left leg almost withered away.”
Although Damien has not specified to say the type of arthritis that his son has, from his descriptions of symptoms, the condition has nearly left him paralysed.
The actor added: “His left leg locked in one position so we’ve been rehabbing him at home. They are brilliant in Cappagh Hospital. They tried to break his left leg to get it working but they couldn’t.
“He’s in a bad way in a wheelchair and so we need to work really hard on the physio and hopefully by August he can get another operation on this left leg again.
“It’s been very tough. We hope with such a rare disease they can cure this, they have to open up his leg and file the bones so the joints can move.
“I have machines in the house and he can use a CPM machine at home to try to move his leg. Once we can get him on an exercise bike hopefully things will improve.
“He hasn’t been in school in months, all we can do is keep going.”
The NHS explains that arthritis in children is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The condition causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints, for at least six weeks, but usually individuals grow out of it, going on to lead a normal life.
Although there is no cure, treatment such as physiotherapy, that Damien and his son Theo have been doing, is the best way to manage the condition. Surgery is also used to help find out the extent of the damage and to remove loose tissue that is causing pain, or smooth our rough edges of joints.