Thursday, 27 March 2014


Thanks for being patient while I was out a few days. The Girl and I are back and I’m typing this with a hand and a half – the other is stitched and bandaged. Short version: The Girl and I travelled to the great organisation Seed Savers to take courses in beekeeping and fruit tree grafting, and an accident put a very sharp grafting knife straight down my thumb.

What followed was quite an adventure; we had to find the country doctor in the nearby town of Killaloo, knocking on various doors to find the not-very-well-marked door in a row of houses. We sat in the doctor's office, The Girl holding my hand in the air as I read to her. The hand needed stitches, the doctor said, but she couldn’t do them there in the office – we’d have to go to the hospital in Limerick, an hour away, and I was unwilling to drive lightheaded or leave my daughter. Thus, The Girl got her first ride in an ambulance – for her it was like a carnival ride.

“Daddy,” she said as I lay on the stretcher, “Do you mind if I take some more photos of you lying there, to show the other kids at school?”

More photos? I said – you’ve taken some already?

She looked sheepish. “Well, just a few.”

Eventually we made it – I was wheeled into the emergency room, The Girl holding my (other) hand, and a nurse told us, "The doctor will see you in about an hour."

“An hour?” The Girl and I said together. “That’s a long time.”

Six hours later – around midnight -- we were still lying on the bed, with various other drunks and accident victims around us. We would later find out that this hospital was notorious for its waits – austerity measures had closed a number of other hospitals in the area. We passed the time reading the rest of Prince Caspian and talking with the other patients, and The Girl did a good job remaining stoic, considering she had had nothing to eat all day, and there was no way to get food.

Finally, as The Girl was sacked out on a gurney, I got stitched back together and wheeled her bed into the ICU, where I lay in the bed next to her and slept. We drove home the next morning.

I'll have the stiches out in a fortnight or so, and there should be no permanent damage. We really had a great time driving there and back again, singing and reading stories the whole way. We just had an unexpected adventure in-between.

The next morning, as we sat in our favourite café in Kilalloo, the morning light rippling over the waters of Lough Derg, The Girl and I talked about the people we had met in the emergency room. We had met a Limerick native who told stories of his days as a chauffeur for Saudi princes, but who was old now and recovering from a fall. We talked to a very elderly man from a nursing home, affable but clearly confused. We saw a toddler with a bandaged head, impatient to leave, and a woman fresh from a car crash, strapped to a bed and frightened.

“We were the luckiest people there,” I said, and she nodded solemnly. Then we clinked our cups together, downed our tea and were on our way home.


Brian Michael said...

Hi Brian,
Sorry to hear about your misadventure! Love the story about your daughter and her taking pictures. Just a few! I had an experience with medical care in Ireland that for me an American was quite amazing.Eight years ago I was visiting my friends Beckie and Michael in Shankhill south of Dublin. Beckie had a stomach port so she could take food. She had cancer and needed some supplies from the chemist. Michael was at work so she asked me to go to the chemist and get what she needed.
She gave me a list and I asked how much is it? She said he will give it to you. There is no charge. I was astounded. Sure enough I went to the shop and gave my list and without asking for ID or money gave me what she needed. Not so here in the US. I have experienced my own cancer issues here and the experience compared to Ireland are quite different.Neither system is perfect but the Irish way seems more compassionate.

Anonymous said...

Hope your thumb is feeling better soon. Sounds like, despite the long wait (that would be a short wait in many Australian city hospitals sadly)and of course the discomfort of your wound, you had a pretty interesting adventure. I had to chuckle over The Girl taking photos too.

Anonymous said...

When things go wrong, these are the days of memories and stories. They are frightening when they are happening because we don't know how they end.
But once they end, we know we survived and have a memory, a story, and a binding recollection.

Agnes Day

Brian Kaller said...

Brian Michael,

Thank you, and I agree; I give out about the wait that night, but most of my experiences with Irish medicine have been good. The fact that insurance is either affordable or unneccessary makes a blessed difference in people's lives.

Rabid, thank you -- I told her she has a great future in blackmail.

Anonymous, yes, these are the times we remember.