An Open Letter. March 2nd, 2017.
To Enda Kenny. To Simon Harris. To the the People who Cannot See the Bigger Picture.
It is an awful feeling to have in the pit of your stomach to know your father is sick.
To know he is worrying.
To see him in a hospital for weeks on end like a caged animal, domesticated by force.
My father was diagnosed with heart trouble two years ago.
The doctors have swung between stents and by pass surgery, medication and ‘talks’ since that awful summer two years past.
What has happened since?
A stent operation that was cancelled at the last minute due to a low heart function (despite prior knowledge of this).
Horrid, long waits in St James hospital for a blunt, arrogant machine of a surgeon to make my parents further stressed with his horrendous manner, curt manner of delivery, lack of desire to empathise, sympathise or show kindness to a worried middle aged man and his wife up for the day to Dublin from their rural home. This man- Dr Young- gives you 3-5 minutes, four sentences of information whereupon he parrots his orders into his dictaphone for a letter and barks ‘Cheerio’ to signal that your interview with Him. Is. Over. No questions please, as it were. This man told my parents in this brief time how ill my Dad was, terrified them with what was true but really could have been delivered in another manner. I appreciate time limits and pressure is on the hospitals but I also think that does not stretch to your own choice to be human when dealing with humans.
A wait for this surgeon that was going on and on, with a father (diabetic) who didn’t want to eat until he had seen the doctor. I went to his office door at one point and broke my moral code by looking at the files. My dad’s file wasn’t even in the wait list pile. He knew he had little to tell him until he spoke to some other people but did not tell us this in any time. Just let us wait and wait.
Yes, as soon as I made a fuss, we were seen.
Out of pocket. Out of energy. Fighting for hope.
We have changed surgeon since Dr Young. He had no confidence in helping Dad and honestly the new surgeon gave my father confidence by treating him in an infinitely kinder manner. However we have still been shunted from one place to another, decision to decision, each one more indefinite and uncertain than the last. This further delay has allowed my father’s condition to worsen. This dillydallying from a rude surgeon to the waiting lists that our country is subject to as a result of our health system taking a backseat to other more trivial matters has let my father become more ill. My father was finally on put onto the list for a triple bypass. Isn’t it awful that our lives are subject to lists?
January brought pneumonia. His heart function is considerable lessened.
Is it fair say that if we had better care two years ago my Dad would not be so unwell? Would it be fair to say this country has allowed him to become worse? That my mother is living a sub-life, in and out of hospitals as my dad cannot leave one now as he is high risk? That he cannot drive. Write (his job). Work. Be at home. Be free? Is it fair to say this country is letting my parents down at a time when life should be enjoyed? They should be relaxed?
I have rarely seen my Dad cry but I did see him cry yesterday.
No one needs to see their Dad cry.
Yesterday in St James’s hospital, after four weeks in Tullamore, he was prepared for the triple bypass surgery. He was anaesthetised. I took time from work. My mother prayed. We sat and waited.
Three hours after he went in, a surgeon comes to us. We sank into our chairs. Why was he here? Why was this gowned man here when he was supposed to be in there? He explained they had reach a complication. They had realised his heart function was so much less. They couldn’t do it this week.
They talked of next week.
Relief at the news that it was not worse was our first response, it took us awhile to consider these implications.
We waited all day to talk to someone else.
We were sent a young man, a doctor who was not in the team that morning who gave an explanation that my Mother and I don’t really feel satisfied with (blame Tullamore essentially. That was it. He was officious. Curt. Talked over my Dad. Attempted to answer our questions but really it was not good enough. No other human in the know spoke to us. No other surgeon. Nothing.
Retrospect is powerful for knowledge and I hope that you Taoiseach and your selected minster realise this in years to come when you look back on your administrations.
My father would have been operated on and recovering by now if you all had done a better job.
My mother would not be crippled with fear and anxiety if you prioritise ordinary people.
Apple are laughing at you Taoiseach.
I hope you fall over with your hypocritical bowl of shamrock, and if you hit your head you might realise that you have focused on all the wrong things. You let your administration squabble and lose confidence in you. They sit like pumas in the long grass ready for you to go before they swipe in to take your place. And continue this non-progression.
Enjoy your trip to Washington in the meantime and remember us. Still in hospital. Still recovering. Still dreadfully unhappy.
We are one story in millions.
I am afraid I cannot send my usual kind regards.