The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, October 19, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 13

When Worlds Collide

Sitting alone in a waiting area in the secure part of Tallaght hospital.
It is about as secure as I am.
A brace of security men, leaning against a wall nearby, are indifferent to the presence of a rough looking wild haired inebriate who has apparently already outwitted all the security protocols in the building in order to access this supposedly inaccessible part of the hospital.
He must be one of those clever inebriates.
He is weaving about on multiple trajectories.
He'd be a good character in a tough urban television drama.
He'd be one of the scary ones.
Occasionally he goes up to the counter of a staff cubicle, bangs on it, and demands to be admitted to the hospital as a patient.
At other times he addresses one on one, the paintings hanging in the hall.
No one takes much notice of him except me.
Because I just know he is eventually going to find time for me.
Eventually his schedule permits and he does.
There's twenty empty chairs in the waiting area.
He sits beside me.
He turns and confides: "I wish I had cancer."
I look into the middle distance.
My handsome preraphaelite features betray a touch of strain.
Disappointed in my lack of anything, he gets up and weaves down a randomly chosen corridor.
He's about half way down the long corridor when a door beside him opens.
Fiona, the elementally beautiful triage nurse, steps into the corridor.
They are face to face.
Two worlds collide.
Their eyes meet.
Without hesitation the inebriate drops his trousers, seizes the Honorable Member of parliament for Nethers South, and waves him enthusiastically like an election banner.
I understand his idea but I have to tell you bold readers, this approach rarely works.
Fiona does a great expression.
It doesn't stop the guy brandishing.
But it's a really great face.
Leonardo Da Vinci would have had a field day.
She hasn't flinched.
Just a great face and a faint disappointed shake of the head.
Worth the price of admission.
She says nothing.
The inebriate is still waving the Honorable Member, possibly hoping to change her mind, when the security men arrive at a run.
They are gentle enough with him as they pull up his trews and lead him back to the parts of Tallaght hospital where such behaviour is permitted or at least less frowned upon.

Friday, October 18, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 12

James And Fiona And Bill And Ted

At Tallaght hospital the admissions procedure began again.
The front of house people were good.
I was sent to a cafe in the foyer to wait while the documents from the other hospital were sorted.
The woman who took my documents told me she'd deal with the paperwork and fetch me from the cafe in twenty minutes. She was as good as her word.
A lissom, dark haired, lissom, businesslike, but still lissom, triage nurse called Fiona assessed my injury.
I tend to hold with Professor Shappie Khorsandi's theories regarding Fionas.
In social science it's known as the Khorsandi hypothesis and states that people called Fiona are evil bitches.
This one was a particularly striking girl.
Not on strike.
The nurses strike had taken a pause in the past hours to allow the government to cave in.
Her looks were of a peculiarly arresting quality.
Nothing to do with style.
She was wearing the neutral baggy overalls that hospitals rightly now favour for women staff members but which still can't quite conceal lissomness.
Nothing to do with glamour either.
She hadn't accentuated her looks in any way that I could see.
Yet she was possessed of a most unsettling beauty.
An almost primal presence.
There was no denying it.
Nor was it easy to say what exactly it was about her.
It was certainly remarkable.
All the more so for being unfathomable.
I don't know if I've ever seen a girl quite as beautiful.
The word whoargghhhhhhh kind of captures it a bit.
She was not completely unaware of her power of course.
Women are not idiots.
They know if people find them attractive.
The wise ones know not to over rate such things.
It seemed to me that she must get a lot of attention from men.
It doesn't always help a human being to be admired.
She handled it responsibly enough.
I for my part tried to keep my rubbery lechery face as neutral as a baggy pants suit.
"How did you fall?"
That old gag.
I gave her the truth minus one giant supernatural scald crow.
"Have you ever been in hospital before?"
"I think I was in for a night in 1983 when I cycled a bicycle into an oncoming car."
"1983?" quoth she musingly, "I was only a twinkle."
I resisted the urge to say: "You're still a twinkle."
Then I resisted the urge to do an Eddie Murphy impression from Trading Places: "Once you go out with a man from 1983, you'll never go back baby. You and me baby. Porgy And Bess."
Then I resisted the urge to say: "Whoargghhhhhhhh."
It was a close run thing.
She called in a doctor.
Doctor Calum Swift had a relaxed youthful instantly likeable quality to him.
More like a surfer dude than a doctor.
I glanced at his name tag.
The photo on it had the polarities reversed so that he looked like a black man with white hair and a white beard.
I did not find this overly reassuring.
I felt like saying: "Where's your beard? And why aren't you black?"
The beard, white or not, was nowhere in evidence on his person.
Nor was he black.
He had a look at the arm.
He asked how I had fallen.
I told him most of the details.
"We might be able to operate on you today," he said.
"Really?" I said.
"You've been fasting haven't you?" said he.
"I have," said I.
"That's great. We should be able to go straight ahead."
"Except for a quick sangidge and a coffee that I grabbed in the cafe a few minutes ago before I was called in here."
The doctor sighed.
"We'll operate on you tomorrow," he said.
"You're not seriously going to postpone just because I grabbed a coffee and a sangidge," I pleaded.
Doctor Calum Swift gave me a reproachful spaniel dog look.
"There's no problem," he said kindlily. "But we'll do it tomorrow."
Another doctor arrived.
Doctors seemed to like the ambience around here, I thought.
This I could understand.
If I was working at Tallaght hospital I'd have been bobbing in and out of Nurse Fiona's triage station too.
The new arrival introduced himself as Doctor Danilo.
Like a name from The Simpsons cartoon, I thought glumly.
He was young and built like a rugby player.
I checked his name tag.
He'd hung it around his neck upside down.
I would never know his last name.
Standing there, Doctor Calum Swift and Doctor Danilo looked quite the pair.
Surfer dudes, or rugby players, or male models.
But not doctors.
Perfectly capable fellows I'm sure but the generation gap, for such I admit it to be, meant I would never see them as anything other than Bill And Ted having another great adventure.
"Are you really going to operate on Heelers dude?"
"I totally am dude."
"You think we should attach his arm to his leg socket, and transfer the leg to his arm for a joke?"
"I'm totally there dude."
I could almost hear them.
I began to waver in my decision (such as it had ever really been my decision) to seek treatment for the injury.
"Do I really need an operation?" I asked. "Could we not just let the arm heal?"
Doctor Danilo drew himself up to his not inconcsiderable height and began a speech about how by inserting metal thingummies here, and cleaning up the shattered bone fragments there, and by a stroke of luck all over, I might, just might, recover significant usage of my arm but that otherwise I could be left with barely any movement in it at all.
He did the required thing and let me know a few of the risks associated with going under anaesthetic most of which seemed to involve a recurrent chance which he insisted was remote, of meeting the character Death also from Bill And Ted's Great Adventure.
He added that a great surgeon called Maloney was in situ at the hospital and about how really I'd gotten lucky because Maloney is one of the most famous and one of the best surgeons in Ireland, Maloney is a genius really, and happens to be on hand, so really I should have this operation.
His enthusiasm was Churchillian.
He proffered a consent form for me to sign.
Doctor Calum Swift smiled encouragingly.
"If it was me," said Doctor Calum Swift simply, "I'd be having this operation."
I began to read the consent form.
Doctor Danilo said: "I have to take a call."
He stepped out into the corridor.
Too important to watch me reading, I thought, but I read the thing anyway.
And signed.
Nurse Fiona was busy being elementally phenomenally gorgeous with some paperwork in the corner.
I handed the consent form to Doctor Calum Swift.
"What is Doctor Danilo's last name?" I ventured.
"I don't know," said Doctor Calum Swift, "I think it begins with an M."

Thursday, October 17, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 11


Some time in the morning I finished the rosary.
Joyful, peaceful, glorious mysteries.
And the mysteries of light.
A feeling of peace swept over me.
I checked my senses.
No. It was real.
That's rum.
I'd spent most of the night on an examination couch. I'd been put on a fast (ie no food) as a surgeon was going to operate when I got to Dublin. I hadn't slept.
But I felt refreshed and happy, almost on top of the world, as though I was emerging from a perfect stay at a luxury hotel.
The ambulance was cancelled. A decision had been made to do some more tests.
They gave me yet another X Ray and then a magnetic resonance imaging scan which involves being slid horizontally into an eerily isolating steel funnel while machine sensors measure things.
Towards midday they sent me, still spiritually content, by taxi to Tallaght hospital in Dublin.
I commend your attention gentle travellers of the internet, to the rosary.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 10

The All Nighter

"How did you fall?" asks Doctor Boko Andrew Shingani.
"Walking in the afternoon, flat ground, maybe some frost, no drink taken, I might have slipped," I said.
He remained silent.
"How about letting me go home, Doc?" I ask.
"Is one of your arms normally twice the size of the other?" he enquired, answering a question with a question.
The hours tick away.
I've been admitted to the Accident And Emergency Ward.
Lots of patients lolling on trolleys.
This is a deceptive scene.
There is no shortage of hospital beds in Ireland but the trade unionised nurses will not allow access to a bed unless there are a particular number of nurses working at a given moment.
It's a power game.
Leaving patients on trolleys is an effective way to extort pay rises from the government or to force an increase in staffing levels.
When nurses say "no beds are available," they mean "we will not unlock the door into the room where lots of extra beds are available unless the government pays us more or hires more of us."
I've been lucky.
No trolley for me.
And some privacy.
They've put me in an examination room on my own.
I'm lying on an extended examination chair which is in some ways quite like a couch.
There is a sheet thrown over me.
I've been praying the rosary for a few hours.
The prayer has come alive to me, which has happened before, but tonight it's quite distinctive.
The prayer is more real than anything around me.
Farmer Jones and his wife have stayed.
There have been a few trips to the X Ray department and back to this room again.
It's 3am.
Doctor Boko Andrew Shingani beetles in.
He says to my advocates: "You two should go home. I'm going to keep him here all night. I'll get an ambulance to bring him to Dublin at 6am. They're going to operate on him at Tallaght hospital in the morning."
My good neighbours depart.
Doctor Boko Andrew Shingani stands beside me and says: "I heard you talking to the nurse earlier about parrots. In my country we have an animal. It has a human face. No. No. It's not a meerkat. It is a little animal. And its face looks human. It has little hands that look human. But it is an animal. And sometimes we mistreat it. You know children and so on. We mistreat it. We throw stones at it. Or we hold onto it and we won't let it go. And it cries. It cries like a little baby. Like a human baby. But it is not a human. It is an animal. There is a word for it in our language. I don't know what it is in English. And then maybe we let it go. And it runs up a tree. And it laughs at us. It has a laugh like a human laugh. But it is an animal. And it runs up the tree and laughs at us."
Boko Andrew Shingani stops talking and looks at me expectantly.
"Ah. " I say, " the dignity of creatures."
Boko Andrew Shingani seems disappointed by this comment and bustles off.
I return to the rosary.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 9

They Say That Naas Is A Terrible Place

The neighbours take me to Naas hospital where we sign some forms and posit ourselves in the waiting room at the Accident And Emergency Department.
It is a quiet night because of the nurses strike.
Only a few other people there.
A young Muslim family trying to get one of their children admitted and some stringy looking street toughs fresh from the Monday night fight looking to be patched up.
I sip a coffee and think.
My spider senses are tingling.
I'm reviewing my list of mental reservations about Naas hospital.
Why exactly have I reservations about Naas hospital...
Where I'm sitting is just yards from where paramedics murdered a 79 year old patient called Christy Byrne by setting an ambulance on fire with him in 2016.
We're within walking distance of the wards upstairs where Nurse Noreen Mulholland tortured and murdered at least two patients, John Gethings (aged 77) and Seamus Doherty (aged 80), during her rampage in 2003.
Also an alcoholic man told me when I was a teenager that there was a devil worship ring active in the hospital.
And just a few years ago, I personally witnessed a nurse pleasuring herself by deliberately causing pain to an old age pensioner as she took a blood sample from him. Middle aged, hard faced nurse, with blonde/russet hair cropped short, and a distinctive Celtic circlet tattoo on her upper arm. She'd taken a blood sample, then spotted that the man was wearing a cross. She said: "I need to take some more." She jabbed a needle into his arm, gleefully, leaning close and staring into his eyes with a maniacal gloating expression in her own eyes. I was right there. It happened as I have described it.
The hospital does have a very bad reputation in the hinterland going back further than any of this.
It's become a part of local folklore really.
A proverbially dangerous place to be treated.
Anything else making me uneasy...
Well it's a picadillo.
Hardly worth mentioning.
A thing of nothing.
During the last nurses strike I drove up to the picket line around this very hospital and shouted: "Go back to work you lazy overpaid ****s."
Surely the nurses wouldn't have taken that personally.
After all I've never played favourites.
I've done precisely the same thing to the cops and the teachers during their respective and repetitive strike action smash and grabs on the nation.
Ho hum.
On a lighter note it's only a few weeks since I suggested in my public writings that the security staff at Naas hospital are gangland connected.
And here I am for treatment.
What could possibly go wrong!
All in all I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

Monday, October 14, 2019

valorous idylls chapter 8

The Price Is Right

Brooding over their mobile phones in the corner of my kitchen, Farmer Jones and his wife hatched some plans.
I continued to urge the Archangel Raphael to go for a late touch down.
Before doing anything else, the good neighbours decided to call in another neighbour, also a nurse, who arrived quickly.
"Sure it's nearly better," I pleaded.
"That's a bad break," the new arrival said quietly.
She suggested that I go to the nearby Vista Clinic and get a letter from a doctor there confirming I needed treatment. The letter would cost 75 Euro.
"Seventy five bleedin' Euro," I blurted.
"I'll pay it," said Farmer Jones.
In spite of the nurses strike, Naas hospital would admit me if I had that letter.
The farmer and his wife led me to their car.
Soon I was being seen by Doctor Donaldson in the Vista Clinic.
He was African with a cultured British accent.
Doctor Donaldson gave a cursory glance at my arm.
"How did it happen?" he asked.
I answered carefully
"I was walking in the late afternoon. It was sunny. Level ground. I had two dogs with me. There might have been traces of frost still about. One of the dogs was on the lead. He might have jerked suddenly. I was wearing new shoes. They mightn't have a great grip. I have a knee that gets a bit weak. I suppose it might have acted up. Whatever happened, I went down very fast."
I thought it best not to bring in the bit about the human sized scald crow.
A lot of doctors are surprisingly sceptical about such notions.
"Had you drink taken?"
"No. No drink. No drugs. I've no interest in those things."
Doctor Donaldson stood up.
"What I don't understand," he said musingly, "is why you're not screaming with pain."
Me and Snake Plisskan, eh bold readers.
But I didn't say this either.
"I will write you the letter," said Doctor Donaldson. "You can wait outside."
As I went to the door. Doctor Donaldson stood up suddenly, strode around his desk, and thrust his finger into my elbow.
I turned to face him.
"Oh?" I said.
Without a word Donaldson returned to his desk.
I left the room.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

valorous idylls chapeter 7

Revenge Of The Nerds I Mean Nurses

Farmer Jones called in at 11 o'clock that night after cards.
He appraised the situation.
"You'll have to go to hospital," he pronounced bluntly.
My gentle preraphaelite features contorted into a mute appeal.
"I was thinking of waiting the night," pleaded I mutely. "You know things might look different in the morning."
"Your hand is turning blue."
"It's always blue."
"Let me ring my wife. She's a nurse."
Quick as a flash the farmer's wife arrived.
I tried to get her on my team.
"I think we'll let it rest and see how things are in the morning," I proposed.
"You're in shock James," she replied.
"I honestly don't think I am," I said.
"You're shaking like a leaf," quoth she.
"That's because you two left the front door open," said I.
Farmer Jones closed the front door.
"Now James," said his wife, "I'm going to take off your jumper."
"I don't think you are."
"I'm a nurse. We have ways of doing it. It won't hurt."
"It's not me getting hurt I'm worried about if you try to take off that jumper."
"I can do it."
"No you can't. See. The other arm is still working. I can fend you off till morning."
"Let me try."
"Couldn't we cut through the front of the jumper with a scissors and sort of slide the two halves away?"
She removed the jumper with a minimum of effort while I was half way through the last sentence.
There was a pause as the universe took a breath.
Farmer Jones' wife and Farmer Jones exchanged meaningful looks.
This was too much for me.
"What are you doing exchanging meaningful looks?" I cried. "I know what a meaningful look means as well as the next man. I watched Little House On The Prairie too you know."
The two conferred.
"He'll  have to go to hospital," said the farmer.
"There's a nurses strike," said his wife.