Not MRSA again!

February 26, 2009

It’s been a strange week after all the excitement of the blog awards. I’ve got a swollen head but for all the wrong reasons. My right eye started to swell on Sunday evening shortly after my arrival home from Cork. I wasn’t unduly worried as this has happened before following a flight and anyway, I was covered by an antibiotic  following a recent infection in my head. By Monday the swelling hadn’t subsided and the pressure behind my eye was growing worse. I also felt rotten and had pus oozing down the back of my throat. On Tuesday morning, I sought urgent help and was lucky to get an appointment to see my surgeon at the hospital. He took a swab of the pus and did his best to reassure me but we both knew that with my previous history, there was real cause for concern. My biggest fear was a return of the superbug, MRSA but it would take another 48 hours before my destiny was known.

This afternoon I had some good news.  I have an MSSA (methicillin sensitive Staph aureus) infection, not it’s resistant relative, MRSA. This is really welcome news as it extends my treatment options. Had it been MRSA again, I might well have been faced with many weeks of IV treatment in hospital due to antibiotic resistance. I was started on a new antibiotic last Tuesday but worryingly, it hasn’t kicked-in as yet.  My eye remains swollen and my head still hurts but I’m feeling good.

You see, in the midst of all my woes, I received a lovely surprise from Absolute Vanilla and it’s really boosted my spirits. AV is a highly creative writer, a hugely talented photographer and a very popular blogger so I’m honoured to receive this award from her.



To Steph of  The Biopsy Report who has written tirelessly and courageously about illness and the Irish health system.

“This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It`s a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”

This beautifully timed award has worked far better than any antibiotic. I wear it with pride. Dankie! AV.

Help Lick This Disease

February 26, 2009

Raising awareness of oesophageal cancer and finding better treatments for the disease are the aims of Lollipop Day which takes place this weekend. Oesophageal cancer is one of the most lethal cancers and it is growing in incidence, particularly in Ireland. My own brother Jack, died aged 48, from this awful disease so I am acutely aware of the importance of highlighting awareness.

The Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF) are the organisers of Lollipop Day. They have chosen the lollipop as a campaign symbol as they hope it will make people conscious of swallowing, as difficulty swallowing is one of the common symptoms of this disease. Of all the cancers that can afflict us, cancer of the oesophagus (or gullet) is one of the most lethal. This is because of it’s insidious onset and rapid spread.The proceeds from Lollipop Day will enable research to make a difference in fighting this disease.


You can help in several ways:


The more people selling lollipops on Friday 27th & Saturday 28th February 2009, the more awareness and money will be raised.The OCF relies entirely on volunteers so all efforts are appreciated. If you are willing to help, please  telephone or email:

Tel: (01) 2897457


All donations, large and small, are gratefully received. Every penny will go directly to the charity. The OCF is a fully compliant registered charity.

Please make out your payment to ‘Oesophageal Cancer Fund’ and send it to:

Lollipop Day
2 Granville Road
Co. Dublin


Text LOLLIPOP to 57112
SMS cost €1.50

All proceeds from this mobile service go to the Lollipop Day Fund.

Help lick this disease by supporting Lollipop Day this weekend.  Remember, a little lolly goes a long way!

My Two Cents

February 25, 2009

The HSE is facing more than a €1 billion shortfall in it’s finances this year. Are we surprised? I don’t think so. The HSE is a faceless organisation wasting millions of taxpayer’s money every year to fund it’s quagmire of management levels and all at the expense of frontline healthcare. In a bid to address the budget deficit, the HSE is devising a major cost cutting plan to downsize our health service and you can be sure that it won’t be the HSE to suffer the consequences. While waiting to see a specialist yesterday in an over-crowded out-patient clinic at a large public hospital, I came up with some alternative ideas for the HSE to consider. Instead of solely concentrating on cost-cutting measures in our hospitals, I would suggest that the HSE would be well-advised to look at opportunities to complement our health service.

For starters, let’s look at the area of catering in our hospitals. The catering budget  must be astronomical and yet the wastage of food is phenomenal. Over the years, I’ve had many stays in hospital and I’ve often joked that this provides a saving on the family budget as my board and lodgings when in hospital, are fully covered by my health insurance. I pay dearly for health insurance and am fully entitled to this return. bed-occupancy-rateAll medical card holders when admitted to hospital, are entitled to free care in our public health service. Those patients who are not entitled to a medical card and who do not hold private health insurance, pay a small daily levy for in-patient care. The point I’m trying to make here is that everyone regardless of income, has to budget for their daily nutritional expenses so why should the State or an insurance company be expected to pick up the tab for our food requirements when we’re in hospital? I guarantee you that if patients were  charged for their meals, the wastage of food in hospitals would be radically reduced.  Granted a lot of hospital food is inedible but again if patients were subsidising the cost, the standards would automatically improve.

Another aspect of hospital care which should be addressed, is the way out-patient clinics are managed in our public hospitals. There is no charge for appointments or investigations once a patient is in the public system and like all free services, it is open to abuse. By comparison, those who hold health insurance, must pay-as-they-go to be investigated within the private system, the difference being of course that they enjoy the benefit of shorter waiting times. While private health insurance is fairly comprehensive for in-patient expenses, out-patient expenses are generally poorly reimbursed. I would like to propose that all patients should be expected to pay something towards the cost of their appointments. I believe that a small charge for an out-patient appointment in a public hospital, is not unreasonable. It would not only help to offset budget deficits but would also reduce the number of appointments as public patients would take ownership of their healthcare just like privately insured patients are forced to do. This in turn would free-up non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHD) and reduce overtime expenses for the HSE.

I know I’ll be unpopular for these suggestions but I don’t care as I see it as the right way forward. At a time when the government is asking everyone to shoulder the economic difficulties, we can start by taking responsibility for our own health service. Every single person in this country should have equal, speedy, and efficient access to safe healthcare. At the moment, we have a 2-tier, apartheid health system where those that can afford health insurance, have the fastest access to health care.  Let’s use patient power to save our public health service and stop the degradation planned by the HSE.

And before anyone asks why as a privately insured patient, I was seen yesterday in a public out-patient clinic, let me explain. I had no choice in the matter as I required endoscopic investigation and this service is no longer available in private consulting rooms as a result of the boom in MRSA litigation. MRSA has little to recommend it but in this regard, it has worked in my favour. I got to enjoy an appointment with my own choice of consultant, in perfectly adequate facilities and at the expense of the State.  Point taken?

Problems of Ageing

February 24, 2009

This one’s for Paddy.

old-fellasThree old guys are talking about the problems of growing old.

I have to stand there forever to get my pee going.”

Yeah,” says another. “And I’m always constipated, it’s pitiful.

Third guy says, “Well, with me it’s just like clockwork: every morning at 6 am, I urinate; at 7, I have a nice bowel movement, and around 8, I wake up.”

Roll-on retirement, Paddy!

Oh, what a night!

February 22, 2009

I Cork! Just back from the Irish Blog Awards.

Here’s my prize!


I found him in the Ladies Room  😀


And here’s Grannymar with another toyboy at her knees. Something tells me Conn was enjoying his initiation ceremony!


We’d a bit of a struggle getting Grannymar into the back of the hotel shuttle bus but we got there in the end  😉

We partied long and we partied hard. As Grannymar says, no trophies to polish but that’s not what the blog awards are about. The company, the craic and the friendship was mighty and I loved every minute of it.

Serious blogging will resume once the fog clears.

Get Your Wheels On!

February 20, 2009

Nearly there! As if you didn’t know, the Irish Blog Awards take place in Cork this weekend. The event kicks-off with the Ladies Tea Party at 4pm on Saturday and will be immediately followed by the awards ceremony. It’s gonna be a long night and I know I’ll not be the only one who’ll find it difficult to last the pace. Hold on to your hat, Grannymar, I think I may have found us a solution!

This woman contacted Newstalk radio yesterday to talk about her dog, Molly who has a serious problem with mobility following an accident. Rather than having the dog put down, her husband came up with a brilliant solution…

An Apology: To those readers not lucky enough to get to the Irish Blog Awards, I’m sorry for endlessly harping on about it. Normal service will resume here on Monday, I swear!

Who Makes The Best Patient?

February 18, 2009


Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patient to operate on.

The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up everything inside is numbered.”

The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is colour coded.”

The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”

The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers…those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”

But the fifth surgeon shuts them all up when he observes: “You’re all wrong. Politicians are definitely the easiest to operate on. They have no guts, no heart, and no spine, and their head and rear end are interchangeable.”

And Steph says: “Hang on a minute, I’m not an ‘expert by experience’ patient for nothing you know.  After years of consulting surgeons, I can see through them all so they must be the easiest to operate on! 😆

Dementia is…

February 16, 2009

Dementia is an umbrella term used for a range of symptoms that manifest in a progressive decline in a person’s functioning, caused by degenerative disease of the brain. It is characterised by a gradual deterioration in memory and in the person’s ability to carry out everyday activities, make decisions, understand information and express themselves. It may also affect the person’s mood and personality. Dementia usually has an insidious onset, with most people developing symptoms gradually over a period of years. At present, it is not known what causes the different types of dementia. Medical research is ongoing throughout the world to discover the cause and develop new treatments. Put simply, dementia happens.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia in Ireland, accounts for more than 50% of all cases; the second most common form is vascular dementia, which may be preventable. While the risk of dementia increases with age, dementia is not a natural part of ageing.

Early signs and symptoms of dementia:

Usually a person will display a number of these signs:

  • Memory loss, particularly for recent events
  • Difficulty in performing everyday tasks
  • Changes in mood and behaviour
  • Changes in personality
  • Disorientation in familiar surroundings
  • Problems with language
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Misplacing things regularly
  • Difficulty solving problems or doing puzzles
  • Loss of interest in starting projects or doing things

gramps-at-woodstock2Facts and figures:

  • There are currently more than 40,000 people in Ireland with dementia, with the number expected to be in excess of 104,000 by 2037 unless there is a medical breakthrough.
  • Dementia can affect younger people; currently approximately 3,800 people in Ireland under the age of 65 have Younger Onset Dementia.
  • Dementia affects the lives of nearly 50,000 people in Ireland who are involved in caring for someone with the symptoms of dementia.

If you are worried that a family member may be experiencing the early symptoms of dementia, you should contact your general practitioner (GP). The GP may refer you on to a specialist, such as a geriatrician, neurologist or a psychiatrist in the psychiatry of old age services, who will conduct a full assessment to try to establish the cause of symptoms. The earlier help is found, the better the family and person with the condition will be able to manage and cope.

For further information on dementia and on services, contact the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

Technology Therapy

February 15, 2009

Did you realise that patients in Ireland are set to get technical? The Nintendo Wii, the home video game console, is now being used as part of a new innovative programme to help patients recover from strokes. Patients are having fun while enjoying a form of therapy that helps them to build balance, coordination and endurance.

ninento-wiiTherapists at the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit in Baggot Street Community Hospital have begun using the Nintendo Wii game console with their patients to compliment regular therapy. Potential benefits for this group of patients include increased hand function, balance, reaction times and processing skills. It’s proving very popular amongst the patients because it’s interactive and there’s a competitive element involved.


Many nursing homes in the US are already using Wii technology as a form of therapy and recreation. A lot of older people have limited mobility and the Wii provides entertainment as well as physical rehabilitation. It also helps pensioners remember activities that they used to enjoy a lot when they were functioning in their community.

This begs the question as to why Irish nursing homes are failing to make proper use of technology? It’s makes utter sense to encourage older people to use technology as a form of therapy. Let’s face it, anything’s got to be better than staring into space all day long!