First an apology for the lateness of this episode – but I do have a note to excuse this tardiness. This last week has been interesting – a bit more interesting than we wanted, to be honest. For the past month Jacqui has had recurring attacks of breathlessness that we had attributed to asthma. Late-onset asthma is a family trait and the house has been full of dust from building work so the idea seemed reasonable. However on Sunday last she had a very nasty attack and I almost called an ambulance. Then we went to see the doctor and he took one look at her and ordered us to the Regional Hospital – in Limerick, 40 miles away.
We had been rolling down the roads, happy that our car insurance problem was finally at an end. Thank goodness it was or we would have been in deep trouble! Public transport is a bit patchy round here (and non-existent this far out). The few cab drivers in the area had shut up shop due to Covid and the waiting times for a cab in the local town can be hours long. We got to A&E at noon and after four hours and several tests they whisked her upstairs.
Now, I was in a strange and very busy town and in shock. I was also frantic to get back as we had not expected this and the dogs had been alone for almost six hours. And I’d never driven in Ireland. I was going to take it slowly, getting used to quiet roads first. Dyspraxics find it very hard to automate anything physical and driving unfamiliar roads with slightly different rules in a huge strain. Then a lovely, kind and helpful taxi driver arrived. He drove me the whole way home and came to collect me the next morning, round trips of over 100 miles. At least I could take some clean clothes, a toothbrush and some things to keep her occupied.
It’s just as well Jacqui was in the hospital that night as she had what they refer to rather delicately as an “episode”. I found out about it when I rang to see if she could come home and encountered a bit more Irish candor than I wanted. The staff were, by the way, overwhelmingly well trained, efficient, kind and helpful – we cannot thank them enough, but this was not a conversation I expected.
“Oh now, Jacqui. Well she’s having a bad day of it. Whatever could go wrong has, you know. Oh, it’s terrible for her. She’s not well at all.” Right.
Looking back I can actually chuckle about that encounter. Jacqui’s abiding recollection is the clear organisation and teamwork which made her feel in very safe hands.
I drove the car back that morning following clear directions from Kieran, the wonderful taxi driver. He gave simple instructions on the easiest route, pointed out landmarks and said, “Don’t worry about anyone else. They want to pass you, that’s their problem. You just drive as you feel comfortable.” The next day I had to go into town for food for the dogs and then set to making the house clean and safe for Jacqui’s return, whenever that might be. When I went to change the bed linen I was horrified to find it full of little bugs. Then I put my glasses on and swept up all the biscuit crumbs left by Charlie, the youngest dog.
We got her home yesterday, a long and horrible week later, and she is doing okay. It was Kieran who did the journey one more time as we couldn’t get any notice of her leaving and all the delays ran through the day and into the evening. These, by the way, were caused by an extraneous department and not the unit she was in. The next four weeks are to help her rest and recover a bit before they decide the best way forward. We are revising plans for some of the building work, doing only essentials for the time being. I have to drive for a while. But the outcome has been a lot better than we might have expected.
We are settled into this lovely house and with a new boiler and almost finished extension we will be warm and safe as winter draws on. So many people have been so kind and helpful offering emotional and practical support. HSE Ireland were magnificent, even letting me visit one afternoon. I did have to wear full PPE and apparently resembled a blue jelly baby but it was worth doubling as a Smurf to spend that precious hour with her.
So, that explains the lateness of this episode. I hope you agree this note does explain my tardiness.