Full Circle

Once upon a time there was s special little boy who went to a lovely little school.

His mum worried about him but he was well cared for in his little school.  He received great instruction there and was introduced to lots of different activities. One of which was being brought on weekly swimming sessions, to a lovely little pool.

His mum used to go too, to help out with her boy and his classmates in this lovely little pool and to help him shower and change afterwards. His mum remembers these trips vividly and with fondness.

In time the little boy grew up and went to a bigger school, where he was also well cared for, educated and introduced to even more new activities. The clever little boy worked hard and thrived.

He still loved to go swimming and went to many different lessons and over time became quite a good little swimmer.

And then one day, suddenly while no-one was looking, the little boy became a teenager. Over night. Flick of a switch and there he was, all grown up. Almost.

He moved to an even bigger, more grown up school where he's been introduced to a multitude of interesting,  academic subjects and even more activities.

One of these activities is swimming and requires the now-teenage boy to walk from the school with his classmates, unsupervised, to a certain lovely little swimming pool.....

It was a happy and proud mum who patiently waited afterwards in the afternoon sunshine, nonchalantly reading her book, while her son finished off showering and dressing.

The teenage boy had fun but doesn't remember being here before and his mum is kind of happy about that.

She has a smile on her face, that widens the more she thinks about the journey they've travelled so far. In her head she silently pats both herself and her child on the back thinking 'job well done' and feels rather astonished at how things on this section of the journey seem to have come full circle.

They drive home in companionable silence and while the teenage boy gets on with doing his homework, his mum relaxes for a while and reads some more of her book.

The End
(For now)


Jazzy The Hooker....... Finally

I've wanted to be one for a very long time, ever since I was a child in fact.

I even had some instruction on it  in school, a kind of a taster to introduce us to this age-old craft. I didn't take to it then although I did take to another related discipline. In fact I became quite proficient at that. Mostly thanks to my mother who was very good at it herself.

I was particularly smitten when my Godmother presented me with an item of clothing when I was a child, that really had me hooked - if you'll. pardon the pun. I really looked the part in that dress.....

Over time I've forgotten about this ambition of mine, until late last year when I started paying for some weekly instructions. I've really taken to it this time around, perhaps because I am more mature now? I even spend some Saturday night's doing it at home. Mr Jazzy and Teen Boy don't object, I just take myself into the sitting room to indulge in my new found passion, leaving them in peace.

I really wanted to do it when I was pregnant too but.....

Oh..... wait a minute..... when I said 'Hooker' ..... you didn't think...... Oh no, no, no. no.... I'm not talking about that age old craft! No, not at all. I mean the other age old craft - the craft of crochet, people: crochet!! What are ye like?!

See, I really wanted to crochet a christening blanket when I was pregnant on Teen Boy, there were so many impressive patterns for crocheting. I eventually found a suitable knitting pattern and made this intricate blanket instead:

But I never gave up on my ambition of being a Hooker and now, thanks to the weekly publication: The Art of Crochet I have become quite a proficient Hooker! I still love to knit but am really enjoying crochet too.

It is a great way to learn as each week you crochet a square, learning different stitches as you go, that will eventually become a blanket. At €4.95 per issue it will arguably be the most expensive blanket ever! I've completed 30 squares to date as you can see from this:

I also had to learn to embroider, something I hate
and am not very good at so don't look too closely!

You also get an interesting pattern or 2 every week. A measure of how well you're learning how to crochet, or to knit, is how you can break away from basic instructions and follow a pattern. By week 3, thanks to my knitting experience, I was able to make these:

And here's what I'm working on now:

I'm doing well but week 32 has me totally stumped. The people at Hachette Partworks aren't being very helpful so I now call on all  you more professional Hookers out there to help me decipher! It simply doesn't make sense to me. Can you figure this out?

                                  It's step 4 to 5 that's the problem. I don't think they explain it properly. 
                                                  Trying to create this 'Mock Cable Square':

Meanwhile I'll carry on, the weekly patterns have given me lots of ideas for various projects which will keep me very busy and out of trouble. While hands that do crochet can still sip wine, they are less likely to dip into the crisp packet ;-)

I'll leave you now, a very versatile Jazzy - who went  from being a Hoofer to a Hooker, in 3 easy steps!





NO to Croke Park 2 and NO to Austerity..... For ALL?

I was full of admiration and respect this week for those Public Servants who had the courage of their convictions to vote a resounding NO to the proposals put forward in the Croke Park 2 (CP 2) agreement, which would have seen their pay cut yet again. They also said NO to the bullying tactics used by this Government desperate to secure agreement.

I also respect those who voted 'yes'. I am in no doubt that most of them did so feeling that it was the only way to avoid an even worse fate and for fear of loss of earnings they cannot afford, due to any resulting strike action.

This 'no' result is important and is a potentially huge opportunity for all workers and everyone affected by austerity and cut-backs in this country.

I feel that Public Servants have been treated appallingly by both recent Irish Governments. The previous Fianna Fail led coalition reneged on an existing pay agreement prior to legislating for and forcing a huge pension levy on us in  2009 and then coming back for more pay cuts in 2010. The current Fianna Gael/Labour Government have also reneged on an existing agreement, Croke Park 1, which had achieved huge savings and still had 14 months to run. We know more savings can be made, talk to and involve the staff - they'll have solutions. Despite promises to the contrary and stating that they always stick to their deals, they recently forced agreement from Trade Unions to recommend more pay cuts via the CP 2 agreement to it's members. Who could ever trust them again when as recently as September 2011 Minister Howlin et al promised he wouldn't ask for more pay cuts?

Public Sector workers know they have to contribute but feel they've already paid their fair share. They face constant anti-Public Sector sentiments from the general public. It's now time to stop being an easy target and to make a stand against the also constant austerity measures. We know that a lot (but not all) Private Sector workers have made huge sacrifices and have been treated poorly too. There is now a huge number of workers across BOTH sectors who have been massively affected by austerity, haven't we ALL had enough?

Both recent Governments have engaged in divide and conquer tactics, not only between the Public and Private Sector but also within the very diverse Public Sector. It serves them well. God forbid that we could all find a common platform and stand together to protest against the constant austere cuts being levied on us all, which only result in less spending in the domestic economy and loss of even more private sector jobs. It is estimated that the pay cuts in CP2 would have meant a loss of 3000 such jobs. 

So what happens next?

The Government insist that the savings of €300 million included in the budget must come from pay roll. Why?
Instead of Minister Howlin bullying Public Servants into pay cuts they simply cannot afford, Labour should have stood up to Fianna Gael's bullying at budget time, when they threatened to impose a 3% Social Welfare cut if Labour insisted on a 3% wealth tax.

Ironically it is estimated that the proposed wealth Tax would have brought in about €305 million.

Why should low-mid income Public Sector workers pay to protect the rich? Indeed why should ANY such worker pay?

In 2009 I wrote a blog post on the MacCarthy Report (attempting to dispel some PS myths!) and followed it with my A Nation Dividing post. I totally stand over the content in these posts. In both I touch on the massive cost to the exchequer in the Black Market Economy, estimated in 2009 to be costing €461 million per week.There will be yield in most audits these days so we need to resource Revenue, as we did in the 1990's, and let them tackle tax avoidance. I also wrote about the difficulty in accepting a job when social welfare entitlements are compared to diminishing wages and the costs incurred in going to work. I still believe this and felt vindicated by a brief comment made by an employer on last Tuesday's Prime Time programme on RTE.

So, what are the Government going to do now the ball is now in their court? Part of their bullying tactics was to threaten to legislate for an across the board 7% pay cut, which would mostly affect low-mid income earners. Will they have the neck to do that? Or will they revert to the usual divide and conquer tactics and try to tweak the untweakable to bag a majority 'Yes' vote in round 2?

While I fear the latter part of me really wants them to try force the 7% cut, so sparking a massive response.

Just think about it.

A substantial number of workers, almost 300,000 people, have stood up to this Government and said NO - we've had enough and we cannot  take any more.

If we're very clever and stop comparing the incomparable shades of green on the other side of the fence,this could be the start of something good for everyone.

Look, there's been lots of protests here and there against cuts, particularly with regard to Property Tax. None are having effect. None.

How about we knock down those damn fences and join forces? Who cares who precipitates the mass revolt and gives the ordinary person a louder voice? It has to start with one very large group so why not Public Servants.

How powerful would that be?

I guess we'll never know.



PS: I know this won't be well received by some and no doubt I will  receive a right bashing myself! But you know what, that's fine. I wrote it with best intentions at heart trying to find an inclusive way forward.  We're all entitled to our opinions. I will respect yours but please understand and don't be offended  if I don't respond. I really feel so sickened by the level of constant anti- Public Servant sentiments that I made a decision sometime ago not to engage or respond. I hope you understand.x

Savita: More Than Just about Abortion.

Like everyone else in the country I was appalled at the death of Savita Halappanaver 6 months ago. I've not said much about it or joined in any debates, as only one very sad and tragic side of the story was in the public domain. I really wanted to hear the hospital and HSE's account of the tragic events that resulted in the death of this young woman, who was hospitalised due to back pain while pregnant last October.

I have to be completely honest and say that I was never totally convinced that her death was solely related to the initial  refusal to give her the abortion that she and her husband had understandably requested.

I always suspected that other issues had a part to play.

As the HSE report has been released and the inquest is now been heard we are finally hearing the medical side of the story. And what a truly tragic tale it is.

I've not read extensively on this issue, it is far too upsetting for that, but I have read some of the Irish Independent's coverage and some reliable twitter links. So far it seems that a series of appalling systems failures (poor communications between staff and test/result procedural errors) were a huge factor in this young woman's death. It also seems that Mrs Halappanaver's rapid deterioration surprised everyone and was quite unusual. Which only serves to highlight the importance of constant monitoring and communications and to adhering to accepted medical practices.

 This is about more than just our Irish abortion law.

Even if you set the abortion law aside for just one second you would have to wonder if more timely pathological testing/results, communications and monitoring (per agreed medical practice) would have saved her life?

No woman should die in a developed country such as ours in this day and age due to a pregnancy related illness. If the abortion law in Ireland played any role in this poor woman's death then change or clarify it so that Doctor's can act as fast as possible in the future to avoid this ever happening again. Ever.

But please, for the sake of all Irish hospital patients, do not let this case be solely about our Abortion law. 

We must also ensure that  proper medical practices and communications are adhered to in all our hospitals, or we could be facing similar outcomes for other patients.

If it hasn't already happened.

During my elderly mother's long spells in hospitals over the past year with (multiple) stroke related issues I have often been worried about the timeliness of investigative scans, pathology, results, monitoring and weekend lab/scan access and cover. I have great respect for our Doctors and nurses and appreciate all the wonderful care and respect they have shown us. But it never stopped me worrying or feeling that I had to constantly monitor them, monitoring her.

Doctors/Consultants make all sorts of life-saving decisions every day. They may be presented with very difficult cases (with possible legal implications) as in the tragic Savita case, but they also make difficult decisions in elderly cases too. They base their decisions on their considerable medical experiences, accepted practices and most likely outcomes.

Feeding a seemingly failing elderly person is one such life-affecting decision, just as it is with a mother/baby one. There is a very fine line dividing continued feeding (via an NG tube or the more invasive Peg) as being nourishment or force-feeding - prolonging a life that is perceived to be failing. If you agree to choose not to feed them then you are choosing to willingly and complicatedly (that is how it feels) to let them die. This is after consulting with the medical team and being advised that 'it is better for the patient that way, they wouldn't want to live like that' they tell you. They will of course have asked beforehand if that's what you think the patient would want. But, who really knows?

Such a clinical decision was made on my mother's behalf last November and she was sent from an acute hospital back to the nursing home, on palliative care with advice not to feed and 3 weeks to live. Sent 'home' to die.

I do understand the decision that was made, really I do. I get that an acute hospital is not for minding the patient, she is definitely better off being minded in the nursing home. However, they could have minded her a bit longer, just to be sure, as there were other possible contributing factors to her presentation that they didn't accept. It was a clinical decision, sensitively given. And they were wrong.

I would love nothing better than to now, 5 months later, wheel the patient back to that hospital and show them how she is now, how she now relishes a variety of specially prepared foods. How she has a life. Well, it may be a half-life but it's her half-life.... and it turns out she didn't want to die. Or so the lady has since informed me. I will be forever grateful to the nursing home who went with the patient and not solely on her presentation.

In general our Doctors and nurses do an amazing job in increasingly difficult circumstances, but they are not infallible. It is right that we ask questions of them as constantly as we wish. It is something I do regularly and has always been welcomed by any medical doctor I have contacted. In my experience they like that you care enough to do it and they do want to do the best for their patients. Whatever else happened in the Savita case I get a sense of that among the medical personnel involved there too.

I admire Savita's husband Praveen for his incredible strength and generosity of spirit at this extremely difficult time and his persistence in getting definitive answers in his wife's case.

If we don't let ourselves get bogged down in just one aspect of this case alone then a great service may be done for health care in our hospitals.

We seriously need to examine the reasons behind the apparent systems failure in this case and check it across all hospitals.

If it has anything to do with over-stretched resources/staff  then that needs to be dealt with and the staff properly supported and resourced. If it's human error than that needs swift resolution also. The worrying thing to me is that this system failure occurred mid-week as opposed to weekend, but weekend cover and lab/scan access and reporting  in our hospitals needs a serious overhaul too.

If cutbacks are ultimately the cause we should then send a copy of the final report to the IMF, the Troika and any of our European partners who forced us down the now considered false road of austerity and make them pay.

They need a strong reminder that Ireland Inc., is not merely an economy - we are a society.

And they, through enforced cuts and austerity, are killing us (society and economy).

While we stand meekly by and let them.

Forget about loan extensions and 'ploughing millions into our banks' . 

Burn the remaining bondholders and instead plough the money directly into our Economy (jobs, people's spending pockets) and our Society (Health, Education and Special Needs requirements)



(a rather irate)

NOTE 1: Since posting this yesterday I came across this article in thejournal.ie regarding 'Serious concern over staff shortages in Emergency Departments. I wonder where else there are shortages?

NOTE 2: 17/4/2013: Dr Peter Boylan stated at the inquest today that a termination on the Monday would have saved her life, but would have been illegal due to our Abortion Law. As I've said above we need to change our law so that doctors can act sooner and give mothers a right to life too. I absolutely re-iterate that we also need to deal with the reasons (staff shortages/austerity measures?) behind the massive systems failures. Could her life still have been saved if they'd monitored the sepsis sooner, given the correct antibiotics?

NOTE 3: 19/04/2013: VERDICT: The verdict in the inquest into the death of Savita Halapanaver was given today. A report and analysis of today's verdict can be read in this thejournal.ie link . Here's a short synopsis of the verdict:

'The inquest today found that there was medical misadventure relating to the management of her treatment. The jury’s verdict was unanimous. It alsostrongly endorsed the coroner’s nine recommendations, including a recommendation to the Medical Council to “lay out exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of the mother in similar circumstances, which will remove doubt and fear from the doctor and also reassure the public”.'

This is a tragically sad day, it is also Savita and Praveen's 5th wedding anniversary. There are still questions to be asked. Praveen is a very, very brave man and as I say above he has done a great service for patient care in Irish hospitals by virtue of the Coroner's 9 recommendations. Now to ensure they are adhered to.

My heart goes out to him as does the hearts of the Irish nation.

Sleep well Savita and baby Prasa.