The Horde

I wrote this article for the Journal.ie last year, but it never got published. Seems very topical again…

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I’ve been to the Mater Hospital A&E about six times in the last year or so. Either accompanying my mother, who had to be checked for suspected blood clots several times, or attending for a few unlucky accidents I’ve had myself this year. During the first visit with my mother, I was outraged, that at nearly eighty years of age, and in a wheelchair, she had to spend the whole night in the waiting room. It was fourteen hours before she got to lie on a trolley. I have to laugh at the fact that a lot of people are angered by the idea of spending the night on a trolley. What a luxury. Really. A trolley is basically a hospital bed, on wheels, usually located in the sanctuary of the emergency ward, compared to a night amid the chaos, discomfort and endless waiting in the A&E waiting room.

2012-09-28 05.12.57

These days I know what to expect, and with a resigned sigh, I’ll start packing my A&E survival pack, 100% sure that I will spend the entire night in the waiting room. For this you will need:

  • Kindle/iPod/Phone/Tablet/Chargers
  • Fruit/Sambos/Flask of tea
  • Change for vending machine, the contents of which will slowly transform overnight from unhealthy rubbish into the finest cuisine in the land
  • Ideally; earplugs also. By about 6:30am you will want to smash the TV in. I once sat through about six agonising episodes of “Traffic cops”. Being forced to listen to someone else’s loud TV is my idea of hell. Unfortunately, going anywhere near the buttons on the TV will undoubtedly draw the attention of THE HORDE.

Along with your well-packed survival bag, you will have some missions to accomplish:

MISSION #1: Do not draw attention to your presence & avoid interaction and eye contact with all members of THE HORDE.

Who are THE HORDE? They are the people who live in the A&E waiting room. Their faces change but underneath they are the same bunch of people every single time.

  • Loud disruptive abusive violent shouty person(s), often racist.
  • Alcoholic(s) who reek of wee, falling off the seats all night, gaining more injuries than they arrived with
  • Lots of random homeless people and/or junkies who all know each other, and know the A&E drill inside out
  • A gaggle of drunk girls*, with an amazing capacity for non-stop mindless chat
  • And if you’re especially lucky: a prisoner handcuffed to a cop or Mountjoy screw

*I’m not being sexist, I’m stating a fact, they’re present, every single time.

These are the members of THE HORDE. They never leave, and slowly multiply overnight until you are the last person there.

So you better revise your survival bag: leave those earplugs at home, you need to keep your wits about you…

MISSION #2 is to try and hear above the clamour, for the beautiful sound of your own name. Your ears will perk. Your heart will soar. You will be transported by an angel, from purgatory, past the St. Peter security guard, and through the pearly plastic gates to the emergency wards, even if only briefly. My last night there consisted of this loop:

  1. Hear my name, eventually…rejoice!
  2. Get patched up and returned to hell
  3. Slowly disintegrate into a pool of blood (gory pics from a week later)
  4. Repeat, until the plastic surgeon eventually arrived in the morning and saved me from THE HORDE just in time: they had all started shuffling towards me slowly, sniffing the air with hunger at the scent of fresh blood wafting through the air.

I wonder just how long all this has been going on, as I have a vague memory of some childhood injury where my Dad insisted on frantically running into A&E, carrying me in a blood spattered sheet, in a bid to avoid the dreaded all-night wait. It was probably a paper cut. Were THE HORDE waiting for me that night? I’ll never know.

I also wonder just where all the rich people go for their emergencies? I imagine the Beacon in Sandyford is a very different experience. Though for one injury I managed to go to the Mater Rapid Injury Clinic in Smithfield. And in comparison, it is unfathomable that these two places are run under the same name. They couldn’t be more different.

I got talking to one of the nurses about all this in the Mater A&E recently and of course they are just as frustrated at the disruption caused to the system. He said that every single unconscious drunk in Dublin gets picked up by an ambulance and dropped off at A&E. He also told me that in the UK these people are much more likely these days, to be sent to a drunk tank to sober up or sleep it off. This completely frees up A&E so that genuinely sick and seriously injured people can be seen more quickly and don’t have to spend the whole night in pain surrounded by the chaos of THE HORDE.

A legend dies

Derek “Crosaire” Crozier died over the weekend. I made sure to get a paper yesterday and was determined to finish it but alas I didn’t quite make it.

No other crossword comes close to the elegance of the Crosaire. But I stopped doing it a couple of years ago. I couldn’t justify paying 1.80 every day when I just went straight to the Crosaire, and often didn’t look at the rest of the paper. Except for some interest in the art page, the rest of that paper just puts me asleep.

It was such a ritual part of my morning, an OCD ritual; I had that fold down to a tee, black bic at hand (had to be black), all answers in upper case, and a diagonal tick over the number of every solved clue. Doing the online version just didn’t do it for me somehow.

Elsewhere:

My attempt from yesterday
crosaire

Anna Braine

Quick post on phone from hospital. Anna Elizabeth Braine was born today at 4.44pm. Both girls are fine and we’re all over the moon. See flickr photo in sidebar.

Update: Some proper photos here:

Anna birth 036

Anna birth 029

Anna birth 035

Some more on Flickr:

A real Chuck Norris fact

Voting is now open for the New Humanist’s bad faith awards. I think Chuck Norris is a clear winner. He said if he was a president he would tattoo an American flag with the words ‘In God we trust’ on the forehead of every atheist. What a cock. Though you’d be tempted to dismiss him as a looney and give it to that other cock who thought the summer’s floods were God’s punishment for Britain’s liberal attitude to homosexuality.

Alive and kicking

Fi beat me to it but after a very long time trying to get to this point, we have a baby with a heart beat. I took this video with my phone, and the sending directly to youtube from phone thing worked for once. So I might chuck a load up now. Videos that is. We’re delighted that it seems to have passed the usual abnormality tests, but a few seconds into the video you can see quite clearly that it’s actually an alien baby.

Accident on O’Connell street

Bit shaken today. I was walking up O’Connell street this morning on the way to the LUAS, walking in the middle as always to avoid the crowds and the paper pushers. Just past the Spire I see this big truck coming up on the path. I was thinking what’s he up to? he’s going to hit that sign post if he doesn’t slow down. Then when I saw he had no intention of slowing down, and was about ten feet away from me, I jumped out of the way. For a second I thought he has to stop, there’s a sign post there! And there was guy just in front of the sign post! I don’t know where I looked just then, I just got out of the way as quickly as possible and then when I looked back, the truck was still going, knocking down everything in its path, and then it stopped at the big christmas tree.

I looked around to see where the other guy had ran to. He hadn’t! Jesus! He was lying twenty feet away in the trail of the carnage looking a bit mangled. His clothes were half ripped off him, and he was very still. I don’t think he ever saw the truck. I think he might have been looking at a phone or an i-pod or something. Shit! I felt terrible. If I’d been thinking a bit quicker, I might just have been able to grab him out of the way. The poor kid, might have been about twenty. A cop arrived very quickly and the kid started groaning horribly. Sounded horrible but was probably a good sign.

Another guy jumped up to the truck to check out the driver. The driver said he just blacked out. Still a bit shaken and upset, I gave my number to the cops, and got some hot sweet tea before coming into work. Can’t stop thinking about that poor guy. Really hope he comes out of it ok.

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Update #1

This was just put up on RTE: http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/1112/rta2.html?rss

Lorry accident at the Spire

A lorry ended up on the central meridian close to the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Gardaí are attending the incident, which has caused traffic disruption on O’Connell St, northbound.

There are no reports of any injuries.

No reported injuries? That’s odd.

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Update #2

Same RTE link now says:

Boy injured in O’Connell St accident

A 16-year-old boy has been seriously injured after being struck by a truck which mounted the centre median close to the Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin.

He was taken to the Mater Hospital after the collision, which occurred at around 8.20am..

Northbound traffic on O’Connell Street in Dublin is down to just one lane. The remaining lane, which is the bus lane, is open to all traffic.

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Update #3 12:40

Just got a phonecall from Garda. The guy that got hit was talking in the hospital. He’s got two broken legs and a broken pelvis and will be in the operating theatre for the day but it sounds like he’s going to be ok. Eventually. Phew.

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Update #4

Some friends told me there are photos on Flickr. It’s a small world alright; turns out both of the people who took these pics (Redmum and Eoghan MCabe) have blogs that I occasionally read. Redmum’s O’Connell street Photos. Eoghan McCabe’s O’Connell street photo.

Also someone from The Star rang me after lunch. At least I’ll get such a small mention that they won’t be able to do some bad punning with my name. Right. Think I’ll leave it at that with the updates on this thing. Feel like I’m milking this for the sake of blogginess now while that poor chap is in the Mater (out my window) in agony.



A dolphin obituary

You know when a famous person dies and and there’s an outpouring of grief and respect, the odd RIP email here and there. Well there’s another 6 Billion of us, and growing, so who cares? It’s a much greater loss when a whole species disappears. It’s just insane. By a mere stroke of luck this little planet has managed to invoke life, many strange and beautiful forms of life. Yet some just pop out of existence forever. Very sad day when that happens. Slightly sadder when it’s such a unique creature as the baiji, a freshwater dolphin anomalous to the Yangtze river. This is the first aquatic mammal species to become extinct since either the Japanese Sea Lion or Caribbean Monk Seal, both of which became extinct in the 1950s. Baiji’s have been in existence for 25 Billion years and now they’re gone.

Fucking humans. I can think of quite a few I’d rather see go before a whole species.