A scream from the Bridge of Sighs

Dateline: November 02, 2019

Hello! It is now just 22.37h on November 02 2019. I am sitting in
the silemce of an Health Service Executive (HSE) funded medical
home in Ireland. On July 24 last, when the nurse from the
Co.Wicklow health service visited me, she told me that she
“didn’t like the look of me”. Not taking this as an affront, I
accepted it at face value. I had just told her that when I awoke that
morning I was gasping for breath and my head was spinning. I had
immediately gone into a recovery position, based upon my interest
and self study of Qi Gong, that is I sat on the edge of the bed and
began a controlled breathing cycle, breathing in to the count of 1-
2-3-4, holding my breath for the count of 1-2-3-4, breathing out on
1-2-3-4, and waiting for 1-2-3-4 to begin the process again. When
I felt my dizzinness reduce I increased the second phase of
breathing to 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 to increas my oxygen intake.
My regular doctor had been contacted and advised that it would
be wise to get me to hospital, Urgently. An ambbulance was called
and arrived promptly. The nurse and ambulance staff worked
efticiently to reassure me and prepare me for the journey ahead. I
packed a bag of “essentials” and my journey began. Please note
that I accepted the advice of the professional carers at all stages
but did not hesitate to question them if I didn’t understand what or
why they did somehhing. The ambulance left my home in
Shillelagh sometime between 1200 noon and 13.00h .

The journey was comfortable and, aside from the tasks that driver
and support person had to devote to checking and measuring my
condition, they devoted their entire time to ensuring that I was
comfortable and knew what was happening. We headed first for
Loughlinstown Hospital but were delayed by heavy traffic. I have
a very vivid picture still of a mullti-national bench of “officials”
seated at desks facing me and my dynamic duo of support. Their
response was that there was no bed for me there as they hadn’treceived the requisite paperwork. Nobody smiled. Neither did I
other than to ask what next? We resumed our journey and headed
for St Vincents University Hospital (SVUH). We arrived there
circa 1900h. I was then in a queue of patients in an emergency
intake department. Having been checked by different officials, I
was eventually admitted to a bed in a ward at approximately
0400h. When I woke up in the morning, I met the four most
important and entertaining friends I have ever met.. We hit it off
immediately, even though I was the only culchie in the ward of six
beds, only four then occupied by real “Dubs”. The young Indian
nurse, whom we unanimously named“Betty Boop”, had in turn
labelled us as the “Famous Five”. A somewhat sad reminder of the
era when her ancesters were part of the British Empire. We have
since been scattered to various curing and healing locations but
remain in contact, A little like soldiers in the battlefront remain
loyal to their comrades. Despite or perhaps even because of those
circumstances they are bound to one another by “hoops of steel”.
It was there that the suggetion emerged that I should “write a
book”. Why? Because there is a story to be told about yet another
dark side of modern Irish life.

Over the next four weeks, I was tested and studied and measured.
No part of my hitherto inviolate body was excepted. I had the
stange experience of a real time video voyage through my back
passage and front canal via my bladder using the latest
technology. It was mildly entertaining, very surrealistic and an
ultimately chilling experience. At the end of all this, I was exposed
in my bed, every morning, feeling like a partially roasted pig on a
spit, to the appreciative aon the edge of the bed and began a
controlled breathing cycle and adoring audience of the the Most
High Panjandrum of Medicine, the “Mister Doctor”, who never
divulged his full name, whilst the underlings, eager young things
that they were from a variety of medical and physical
denominations smiled permanently and passed on to the nextexhibit of human frailty, with only their first name floating in the
ether.

Time passed

Then I was told that a decision had been made. The intervention
would be either a) a continuation of the daily medication, b) the
insertion of a stent, or c) a full-on by-pass operation on my heart.
Needless to say, more tests were required. At the end of about four
weeks from the start of the process, I was prepped for the insertion
of the stent. I had already had a stent inserted in my heart (the aim
being to allow free flow of blood in a hitherto blocked artery) in
2006 when I had a similar upset to my heart in Belfaast. That was
a breeze and I had observed the whole process as it happened on a
closed circuit television as a young medic had piloted the
command vehicle from a vein in my inner thigh to my heart. Quite
interesting, as it was, reminding me of my son’s intense
concentration on the task in hand on his computer, but spoiled by
the senior physician’s unwillingness to allow me to show the
resulting journey into inner space with commentary on the
Saturday morning QUB student radio where I had a slot thanks to
the open-mindedness of the QUB Unionist Students group. I had a
2-hour slot for music, and chat, and craic. Ah well, c’est la vie.
Anyway, back to the HSE supported world When the decision
was made to proceed, I was prepped for the insertion of a stent in
SVUH . This involved a series of uncomfortable interventions on
the day before the ordained insertion. Then on the morning of the
proposed intervention, I had to fast. The excitement and
anticipation mounted. I was briefed in my bed on what to expect.
The journey began with me, in the bed being moved to the nearest
lift , and brought to the floor where the insertion would take place.
The young (female) doctor and the young male (medic) were
ready and re-assuring to me. Then (to an imaginary roll of drums)
the great Panjandrum of Medicine arrived. Looking down on me,
prepped and ready to go, on the operating table, attended by hismedical acolytes the GPM announced that he was going on
hoiidays and would perform the procedure when he returned in a
fortnight’s time.

That was approximately 8-10 weeks ago. Since then, my senior
citizen’s medical card, funded by the good people of Ireland, had
funded my stay in a “step-down” facility. I was removed from the
ward where my “Famous Five” comrades had been housed to a
spare bedroom in the bowels of SVUH for two days and then,
after a really nice, and friendly session with the the Joyous
Twosome (young female medic, and young intern) I was spirited
to a “departure lounge” (I thought immediately of helicopter
transfer) on the top floor of St. V’s with my meagre supplies in
two green plastic bags and then brought down to the basement to
be taken by taxi to the R and R outpost in Dublin to wait for my
stent. My walking frame was lost in transit.

I was received very civilly and made welcome in my new abode.
That was nearly 10 weeks ago. Since then I have entered into the
life of the R and R facility. The administators of said facility are
puzzled as to why I was sent there. So am I. Having been told on
several occasions since I arrived here that I was no longer required
or even welcome, I dug my heels in. It is becoming clear to me
now that, despite the kindness i have received here, and I am very
aware of how kind the multinational staff have been to me, they,
like me, do not really understand why I have been dumped on
them. I don’t really fit in here. This is an R and R facility not a
hospital. OK. So what do I do? I was told that I had to go home to
South Wicklow. But I would have to pay for a taxi to do so. Why a
taxi?? I have free travel in Ireland. I will be four score years in
this, my only space suit, on November 10 next. I broke through
the obduracy by accident. (Administrators live in a perfect world
designed by civil servants and other administratos r). I live in a a
fucked up world of human invention, which is challenging and
invigorating for all that. So we had a stand off. A little over a weekago I was told I was required to travel to St Michael’s in Dun
Laoghaire for a routine check up as they will be my support when
I eventually go home. The appointment was indicated by the Dun
Laoghaire centre as 1030h on a Monday. I was informed at 0930h
that I could go by public transport as I had suggested. .
Responding as quickly as I could to the call, I made it to the bus
stop near my R and R location and caught a number 14 bus to
Connolly.

It was a fascinating and illuminating journey after nearly 10 weeks
in captivity. I smiled at everyone in the bus which I caught at
1030h. I met frozen miserable faces. The only face to smile at me
was an African face near Dame Street. I walked (with my walking
frame) from Bus Arus to Connolly. There, as planned, I asked the
overseer at the entry channels if I could be taken to the Dart
carriage with disability access. No problem. A young man with an
invalid chair came to my assistance. Loading me on board, and
balancing my walker on my knees we headed down the platform.
An incoming train had disgorged its passengers about five minutes
earlier and we faceu a surging wave of intensely focused humans.
Intensively focused humans, that is, 50% of whom were focused
on their mobile phones. I signalled quickly to the pusher of my
wheelchair, an intelligent young man, who was quick to cotton on
to my intentions. We stopped and when an intent passenger was
about about to crash into me, went “nee-naw, nee-naw” as loud as
I could and the humanoid nearly shat themselves, but never
apologised. And they all looked so tense and miserable I began to
feel sorry for them.

Anyway, I arrived safely at Dun Laoghaire and navigated myself
to St. Michaels. I was about an hour late for my appointment but
there was no fuss. I was surprised how quickly the whole process
was completed. The doctor seemed to be as surprised as myself at
why I was still in captivity. So just after 1400h I began my return
journey. Not far from St. Michaels I saw a rather attractiverestaurant. I realised that I was hungry so I entered. Selecting a
table in a relatively quiet area I surveyed the menu. The more I
read it the hungrier I became. Eventually, without going into the
pleasure and excitement of being free again, I had a most
enjoyable 4 course meal. I rewarded myself with a half bottle of
Merlot. I then started on the jouney home. I was ecstatic. And
probably, if the truth were told, as high as a kite I had proven that
despite my apparent ill-health I could negotiate a quite
complicated bus, train, and walking adventure. I am now planning
an equally exciting journey home as soon as possible. But
bureaucracy has its ways of tripping one up. But not me. Watch
for the sequel.

In the meantime, you might ask yourself the questions a) why do
so many Irish people look miserable going to and from work?, b)
why people who claim to be democratic continue to elect
spineless, conscience-less dick heads to represent them, and why,
at the serious level, we don’t have a revolution to fuck the whole
lot of the Government, Civil Service, Adminstratores and overpaid
executives out of office and create a new Ireland, of the people,
for the people, and with the people? And why? Because we are too
comfortable sitting in our dirty nappies and stopping anyone else
getting ahead. And sure, why should we worry about things like
that. Aren’t we fine as we are? We can lose disgracefully in
international sporting competitions and pin the blame everywhere
except where it belongs! Our culture of acceptable failure. But
aren’t we loved by everyone we meet. Sure, isn’t good enough
good enough?

What do you think? You had better be original and convincing
because I have heard it all before. I am talking about the decent
homeless people living rough and barely tolerated in unsuitable
accommodation. I am talking about those citizens of the Republic
sleeping, living, and dying on the streets. The shattered dreams
and hopes of young and old who find themselves in the wrongplaces at the wrong time. I am also talking about those people,
young and old, well qualified and not so well qualified who have
fled the country because they see no future here despite having
been reared and educated here. Even more so, I am thinking of the
refugees who come here for protrction and are met with stern
faces and cold hearts, who are told that there is no room at the inn,
or at the empty hotel, and not even in the hearts of the people they
meet.

In my own journey I have met too many expressionless faces, too many people crippled by their own inability to love and to care. But most of all, I am aware of the cynical self-interest and calculating exploitation of the State and its resources by those who cheat and manipulate the system for their own petty little gains in cheated benefits and expenses, Have they no sham​e? How can such people ever even begin to conceive the concept of an Eden that never before existed.Certainly, they have no shame, So why do we carry them on our back? Where do we start? What can we, ordinary citizens do to reconstruct a State that is on the rocks, The answer is relatively easy to understand, but it will take time, The key to developing a new civilisation is that it must start somewhere, and start small hidden by and emerging from the older civilisation. Think caterpillar and the resulting butterfly. It’s not about destroying the old and building the new from scratch. That is the way trodden by failed and subverted revolutions The relics and remnants of past civilisations still survive around the world as evidence of their power and strength. Europe grew from the civilisation of the Holy Roman Empire and Charlemagne. There is no reason to believe that the prototype of a new civilisation will not be possible if we direct our efforts towards building a network comprising of smaller projects as a chrysalis within the “caterpillar” of our collapsing and sclerotic society. Watch this space..

Notes

1. Culchie, derived apparently from the Irish townland “Coillte Maigh” in Co. Mayo, and used somewhat dismissively to describe “clod hoppers” or provincial folk as somewhat inferior to the citizens of the capital.

2, “Dubs” is short for Dubliners or those born within the Pale or ancient palisade that had been built around Dublin to separate the mixed Viking and Irish population of the early capital of tribal Ireland from the “native “ Irish tribes inhabiting the rest of the island. I would contend that the tribal nature of Irish society still exists. This is primarily because tribal Ireland had not reached the stage of having an integrated state apparatus and identity before England invaded and annexed the island’s population as part of Britain.

3. Craic (Irish language) originally as part of the phrase “craic agus ceol gach oiche” (literally translated as “devastation and music every night” used to advertise a convivial night out with friends in a public house in the Gaeltacht. This hyperbolc description of the combination of flowing beer, good company, and frenzied Irish dancing, is not an exaggeratioon as witnessed by the oft used phrase “Jaze, I’m shwettin’, get me another pint, willyah”

In my own journey I have met yoo many expressionless faces, too
many people crippled by their own inability to lof ve and to care.
But most of all, I am aware of the cynical self-interest and
calculating exploitation of the State and its resources by those
who cheat and manipulate the system for their own petty little
gains in cheated benefits and expenses, Have they no shame?
Certainly, they have no shame, So why do we carry them on our
back?

One thought on “A scream from the Bridge of Sighs

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