Friday, March 24, 2006

Feeling better

Well, I feel much better, but whatever infection I got in the first place hasn't totally gone away.

Originally, I was prescribed antibiotics for only seven days; I am assuming that the doctor who treated me in A+E was of the opinion that I would get to see a specialist within seven days.

I heard nothing from the hospital, so on Thursday morning of Cheltenham week, I decided to go to the hospital to find the ear specialists' department and make some enquiries.

I found the Appointments office, and the lady there told me that the doctor had written a letter to that department explaining my situation, and that my case has been assigned to a specialist. She added that the specialist basically reads through all the cases he gets, and then decides on which ones are the more urgent. Then people are called to see him accordingly.

She added that I wouldn't hear anything for a week at least. She was right. I've heard nothing - apart from the €60 bill for my trip to A+E, which arrived the Thursday morning after my Sunday night visit there.

So the antibiotics came to an end after seven days, and I was slightly worried that the pain might return. The last tablet was taken Monday morning last and then I went back to work; but although there was a slightly different feeling in my ears Monday evening, I have experienced no pain at all since then.

Right now, there is a high-pitched tone around my ears, but it is at a very low volume. Generally, I hear everything at a lower volume than before, and in work I find myself asking people to repeat themselves and then I move closer to them.

Thus two weeks after getting the first feelings, symptoms and pain, I still do not know what exactly I got; I suspect it is a perforated eardrum, but I don't know for certain. I won't know until I see the specialist, but at the moment, God only knows when that will be.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Question: What can possibly spoil my enjoyment of watching the Cheltenham Festival this week on TV?

Answer: a perforated eardrum.

OK it doesn't spoil it too much, but I have to be a bit careful with how I set the volume control.

Right now, my ears are surrounded with a strange humming sound, similar to the sound made by your kitchen fridge when you plug it in. Occasionally, this humming is joined by whistling and/or bell ringing, all to the rhythm of my pulse rate.

I first felt all this Friday evening, and after two sleepless nights, I decided Sunday afternoon to head to the nearest hospital Accident and Emergency Dept to get either a complete cure or at least something to make me sleep at night. Anyway, I knew I wasn't going to be back at work Monday.

This was the first time in my life I had presented myself at an A+E hoping for treatment; I was also perfectly aware that my case was not necessarily an "emergency", because I knew that I was not likely to drop dead within half an hour.

I got there about 4.30 pm, registered at A+E Reception, and then about fifteen minutes later I was called into what they call an Assessment room. I told my story to a gentleman in a green surgical gown who told me that there were several people ahead of me, and it would be several hours before I would be treated.

So I went back home, had some dinner, and went back to the hospital to wait through the pain; I got back there about 7.30 pm, and I was called to see a doctor at 0140 am.

Now I have been prescribed anti-biotics, so I no longer suffer pain and at least I can sleep a bit at night. I will take this week off work, and I am awaiting the setting-up of an appointment with an ear specialist, but God only knows when that will be.

A lot of people in Ireland complain about what is known as the "two-tiered health system"; i.e., one category of health service for those who can afford it, and one for the normal punters, such as what I went through Sunday evening.

But I have come to the conclusion that in Ireland, the main reason why we have a two-tiered health system is because there are quite a number of people who want it that way. And if the two tiers here were brought much closer together, I predict that a certain class of people will go abroad in order to be treated as the superior class of person they think they are.

Sorry if I sound like I am waving a red flag.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Monk's Life

I've just finished reading "The Monk Cardinal" by Anthony Howard, a biography of Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster from 1976 until his death in June 1999.

Here is one of the highlights; it describes his domestic arrangements soon after moving in at Westminster:

"Yet, from the start at Westminster, there was perhaps a hint of strain in Basil's custom of having two boiled eggs and a choc ice before going straight up to his "cell" (bedroom) as soon after 10.30pm as could be managed. (There was only one exception to this rule: in the winter when Match of the Day was on BBC1 on Saturday nights, Basil postponed his bedtime and insisted on watching right through to the end.)"

New Bishop of Ferns appointed

A new Bishop of Ferns has been appointed, Monsignor Denis Brennan. The official press releases are here.

What seems to me to be the most interesting part is this paragraph from the state ment of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin:

"Archbishop Martin takes the occasion also to restate his appreciation of the
extraordinary contribution Bishop Walsh has made during his time as Apostolic
Administrator of Ferns, while not in any way neglecting his intense ministry
as Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin. The Archbishop feels certain the Archdiocese
of Dublin will benefit enormously from the experience and expertise which
Bishop Walsh acquired during his ministry in Ferns."

Two thoughts: firstly, this marks a significant step in moving on after the publication of the Ferns Report; the impression I got was that everybody in Wexford likes Bishop Walsh, yes, but everybody also felt that he was there temporarily to clean up the mess left by the two previous bishops. The RTE news item today emphasised that Monsignor Brennan is the first "local man" in a generation to become Bishop of Ferns.

Secondly, this means we can all resume a favourite sport of many, which is speculating about reshuffling bishops. There was a front-page story in last week's Irish Independent with rumours that Diarmuid Martin will shortly be off to a job in Rome, which may be the reason why he didn't get a red hat last week; and also that Bishop Eamonn Walsh will (or might) be the next Archbishop of Dublin.

I have met Bishop Walsh a few times and he is, honestly, a very nice and holy man. Suffice to say that if Diarmuid Martin does go back to the Vatican, then Eamonn Walsh will be the bookies' favourite to move into the big house in Drumcondra.

More bad news for the Welsh!

I've just gone to Catholic Ireland and looked at the Liturgical Notes in the top right hand corner; because it's Ash Wednesday, "St David is not celebrated this year". Poor Wales! And this after getting beaten at Lansdowne Road last Saturday.

Come to think of it, I have never been in Wales on St David's Day; nor have I ever been to the city of St David's - at least not yet!

But in March 2000, when Ash Wednesday occurred in the week before the Cheltenham Festival, I went over early on Ash Wednesday morning on the boat to Holyhead, and journeyed by bus to Aberystwyth. I really wanted to have a look at the National Library of Wales.

That evening I went to Mass here and there was a good crowd; Aberystwyth is a university town, and I guess the average age was about 20 or 21 - and I heard a lot of Irish accents.

I haven't been back there since. One day. . .