Look on the bright side

July 31, 2009

I’ve read two newspaper articles in the past week which have totally resonated with me. Life can be a bitch at times. I’m going through a difficult time with my health at the moment. I’ve been in hospital for weeks undergoing treatment following a complex operation on my skull.  Following the surgery I developed a complication known as osteomyelitis. In layman’s terms, this is infection of the bone and it’s a bugger to stamp out. I have also developed a fairly severe form of colitis which has complicated the treatment for the osteomyelitis. In order to stay sane, I really need to look on the bright side.

smiley face sticker

Last weekend, I read a case study in one of the Sunday mags about a woman who’d suffered a severe facial injury in a car accident.  She says “I began to see that it was an accident, that I couldn’t change it, that I had no control over it but that I could control how I would learn to live with it.”  I like her attitude. I can’t change what’s happened to me but I can control how I cope with the conseqences.

On Tuesday, the Irish Times Healthplus supplement featured an article titled “Look on the bright side”. Again, the words jumped off the page at me. “If you’re looking for what’s going to go wrong, you will always find it. If you’re looking for what works, life just gets a lot easier.”

I like this philosophy. It definitely helps to look on the bright side 😀


July 27, 2009

I got out of hospital yesterday between treatments, for a couple of hours at home. Pure heaven! It’s amazing how the simplest pleasures in life really matter when choice is denied. Even the sun shone at the right time.

Thanks to my dear friends Philip (for the lift), Sue (for the catering) and of course, to my dear husband Jaimie for making sure that everything at home was the way I love it the most. I’m not sure who was purring the loudest yesterday – me, Noodle or Doodle (my pusscats)???

Normality does exist, it’s just a matter of getting there and staying there.

No White Flag

July 25, 2009

steph's nurse

This is my nurse (thanks Grannymar).

I’m back! Well, sort of… if you know what I mean. I got home from hospital on July 10th on oral antibiotics but it turned out to be a shortlived escape.

Six days later, I was back in A&E with all the old symptoms again. The osteomyelitis has returned in the bones of my skull and the colitis has flared up again too.

There will be no white flag above my bed. I won’t put my hands up and surrender. I’ll let it pass (more anon).

Full credit to Dido (I love this song).

Do Not Enter

July 12, 2009

I had a great bit of fun last week on my last night in the A&E department. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years of being admitted to hospital, it’s to use humour to get through difficult situations. This time, it really helped me through a potential emotional meltdown. I won out in the end too!

Those of you who’ve read this blog before, will know that I have a past history of MRSA infection and although I am clear of this horribly resistant bacteria, I’m still regularly stigmatised by it when in hospital. On this occasion, on admission to A&E, I was carefully questioned about my MRSA status and swabs were taken for analysis. A very kind ward manager found me a bed rather than a trolley and it was pushed into a little side room to ‘protect’ the other patients in case the swabs came back MRSA positive.

The side room had four walls, a bed, one chair and a door. No television, nothing. No en suite either which means that potentially infective patients use the same facilities as everyone else. As I was only a ‘suspected’ carrier of MRSA, no restrictions were placed on my movements around a very busy A&E department. On the third night, I came out of the side room to find a new sign on the door… “Do not enter, please contact staff desk first”. My immediate reaction to this was “Help! My swabs must have come back positive”. I went back into the room and lay down on the bed in despair. That’s when the fury hit. “How dare they put up this sign without first informing me of a change in status!”. I was tired and in danger of losing my cool. Humour was called for. I sat up and carefully made a sign which proclaimed “Enter at own risk, I bite!” and using a sticking plaster from my handbag, I stuck it to outside of the door below the other sign. About 30 mins later, a night nurse stormed into the room and asked if I was responsible for the sign. I smiled back at her cheekily and replied,  “two can play at your game you know. Nobody consulted me about the restrictions placed so I didn’t consult you”.  I demanded to know if my MRSA status had changed. She replied that it hadn’t and admitted that they were playing safe. She then left the room clearly annoyed. I chuckled to myself in victory.

Shortly afterwards, she returned with a smile.  “You win”, she said.  We’ve taken both signs down now”.

raffle ticket

The following morning, I left the room briefly and on my return, my bed and all my belongings had disappeared. Nobody could tell me what was going on but I was hopeful it might be a sign I was about to be transferred to a ward. Another patient was wheeled into the side room and my bed was eventually found in the middle of the department, lined up with trolleys all groaning with patients. Later that day, I was informed that I was to be moved to a ward and as you can imagine, this news came as a huge relief.

The swab reports came back negative on my fourth day in the hospital. Phew! If I’d tested positive, it would’ve compromised my treatment and also meant that I’d been infective to others in the hospital, for a full four days. Countries like Holland, which has brought MRSA contamination under control in the hospitals, must laugh so hard at the Irish interpretation of  infection control.

Happy and Proud

July 11, 2009

My son, Robin has designed some software called Decisions for Heroes (D4H), to help emergency services record and analyse their rescue operations and recently he entered it into a competition for start-ups. The competition was held by iQ Content, a Dublin-based internet consultancy, which offered €10,000 of it’s own money for the most interesting technology-based business plan. The competition was launched in March and received 249 entries. The winner was chosen after eight finalists made pitches to judges from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, as well as indigenous internet firms Daft, Stat-Counter and LouderVoice.

This is Robin’s interview with iQ Content’s Managing Director, Morgan McKeagney…

Robin was the overall winner! The final took place in Dublin last Wednesday evening and news of his win filtered through to me in my hospital bed. It did me more good than any drip ever could.

BTW… if you haven’t already heard… I was discharged from hospital yesterday to continue treatment from home. This development was totally unexpected and the best surprise I’ve had in a long time. I’m one very happy and proud Mama right now.

Me and Matilda

July 10, 2009

my friends

It all started with Geri Atric from Ageing Ungracefully.  Geri wanted to know if I was in a mixed ward in the hospital and thankfully the answer was NO.  I’ve enough problems to cope with here without having strange men in my ‘bedroom’.  Then the bed next to me became vacant yesterday when it’s very pleasant occupant went home and that’s when Grannymar started teasing. She reckoned I might get a HUNK in the next bed.  What can I say?

Having dismissed this hunk in the bed idea, Grannymar suggested that I could always give my drip stand a name as it is by my side night and day. Still teasing, she proposed ‘Derek the Drip’ but I told her I wanted to think carefully about names for my companion.

Well, last night I happen to pop over to visit Baino at Baino’s Banter and there I found an entertertaining post about waltzing Matilda.  That’s it, I shouted! I’ve no need for a hunk in the bed next to me, Matilda keeps me company all the time and we can be seen waltzing down the corridor together. So Matilda is now my newfound friend.

Thanks for the fun folks! And yes, the new occupant of the bed nextdoor, is a delightful addition to the ward.

Dear Mary

July 9, 2009

To: Ms Mary Harney, Minister for Health & Children

I’m writing to let you know my views on the public health service. Having spent three days last week residing in the busy A&E department of a large teaching hospital, I feel qualified to comment. The experience has left me wanting answers to many questions. Please listen to what I have to say.

Last Friday my doctor sent me to A&E for emergency care as I’d developed a serious complication following surgery some weeks earlier. On arrival in A&E, I was rapidly processed by a triage nurse and seen by the registrar on-call. An immediate decision was taken to admit me to the hospital. I finally reached a ward on Monday afternoon! During the 3 days and nights spent in A&E, I was extremely well-cared for but the conditions were hell. The staff were so busy, patients had long waits for help. It was like being in a war zone, people lying on trolleys everywhere with further casualties arriving by the hour. It was also extremely noisy with little or no privacy. These conditions do not aid recovery.

My first question to you, Mary,  is this… why must sick and injured people be exposed to these awful conditions in order to be admitted to hospital? Where are the 1,000 extra beds you promised when you took over as Minister for Health 5 years ago? I sure could have done with one of those beds last Friday.

It was a great relief when I was finally transferred to a 4-bed semi-private ward where I remain. I’m receiving excellent medical and nursing care here. Thankfully, this hallmark of Irish healthcare remains intact despite the inadequate funding of our public health service. I’ve no doubt that this is due to the dedication of the staff who work in frontline services. The unit I’m in, has been recently refurbished and is beautifully fresh and clean. I’ve no complaints really except I’d obviously prefer to be in my own howm. The catering is good, plenty of good nutritional food and frequent offers of hot/cold drinks. I’m very aware that this aids a speedy recovery and subsequent discharge from hospital.  I’ve not always hit this lucky.

Over the years,  I’ve spent many weeks as a patient in this same hospital, on the public wards.  It has always been a grim experience in terms of patient comfort, lack of facilities etc. I don’t think much has changed although I have heard that hygeine levels have improved on the big wards. My medical history is extensive so I choose to hold private health insurance to ensure that I can get care when needed. My case is complex and so I cannot be admitted to one of the smaller private hospitals for treatment although I’m fully insured to do so. These smaller hospitals cannot provide the care I require.

I want you to know, Mary, that it’s distressing to observe your clear policy of starving the public hospitals of funding while you promote the development of co-located private hospitals. The staff who work at the frontline in our public hospitals, are fantastic but they are being stretched to the limit to provide the care needed in our under-resourced public hospital system.  I plead with you to stop bleeding our health service to death while you continue to promote an inequitable health service. Give us a break, Mary.

The semi-private unit I’m in, is excellent. I do not need for anything better as all my needs are being met here. I’ve hit lucky on this occasion as this is the most comfortable unit in the hospital. However, the WHOLE hospital should run like this unit. Instead, the majority of the rest of the hospital is no longer fit for purpose. It’s time to put our health resources to proper use. Surely everyone deserves fair and equitable healthcare?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Steph @ The Biopsy Report

And So It Is…

July 7, 2009

Hello world! I’m back in contact. Big thanks to Grannymar who put up a lovely post yesterday to mark my absence. Yep, I’ve been incarcerated again. I’m back on the drip.

This is just a quickie to let those who are interested know that I’m back in hospital fighting a bone infection in my head again. I’ve just managed to procure an old laptop with internet connection (thanks Robin and Jaimie) and am enjoying contact with the outside world. I’d love to hear from anyone who’d like to get in touch.

I’ll fill you in on more detail when I’ve more energy but please be reassured that I’m making good progress. Thank you for all the lovely responses to Grannymar’s kind words. I enjoyed every single one. That’s it for now folks!