13 June 2009

Bye Bye Crumlin

There are some things that really stick out from CAthal's stay at Crumlin Hospital, those first 24 hours in ICU, getting a birthday balloon that floated out of a box from Ava, getting out of ICU, not being able to hold him for several weeks because he was in too much pain, Cathal getting withdrawal symptoms while coming off the IV morphine, getting a really cool slinky from Noah, the days when we thought his chylothorax would never heal to name but a few. And to be honest, I don't think I can go through them all again, not even to write it all out here. I'm done now with the whole surgery and the 6 weeks we were there. I feel like I've gotten it all out of my system, well, almost everything. Maybe this coincides with writing my last post and sharing our experience, when we had kept it to ourselves for so long. Maybe it has to do with getting the all clear from Cathal's cardiologist a few weeks ago, and the surgical team this week. Needless to say, Cathal is back in action, back on a full fat diet after having had to endure fat free food and fat free milk for 11 weeks, and he is back to his old cheeky self.

But what I really still can't get out of my head is the sight of the parents sitting outside ICU waiting to see their babies or waiting to hear the news. To get to either cardiac ward, you need to pass ICU, and there is always someone there waiting to get in. At weekends it is even worse, news, good and bad is delived outside those lift doors on the bank of seats. I will never forget any of the children that were in ICU at the same time as Cathal. There was Jenny John next to him, a beautiful little Indian girl from Kerry, who's Mother, Father, big brother and big sister were waiting for her to get well. We ended up being neighbours on the ward too, and she got out a few weeks after us. A 6 month old little girl who had surgery only a few days before Cathal, her parents only got 2 days notice that she was scheduled for surgery. She barely pulled through and was discharged around the same time as Cathal. Adam, the little boy who was in surgery the same day as Cathal in the morning and got home a couple of weeks before us.
Across from us was a tiny baby boy, maybe only a few days old, his Polish parents keeping a vigle by his bed side. After a few days, he went to surgery and came back still hooked up to the Heart and Lung Bypass machine. He had two ICU nurses at all times, one for him and one for the machine. He passed away a few days later.
The sixth child in ICU around the same time was a 16 year old boy. The first time we saw him, we were both very shocked. You get used to seeing tiny babies and young children in ICU, but to see an older, bigger child is like glimpsing into your posible future, and all I could think about was Cathal at that age, lying there. Cathal may need a valve replacement in 15-20 years time, and even though this is unlikely to mean he will need open heart surgery, you can't help but wonder if he will visit ICU again. I have this niggling gut feeling that the 16 year old boy had downs syndrome too, which only hits home even more that this could be what is waiting for us. This boy had his entire family close to him. Parents, brothers, sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, cousins, all of them would wait to hear some news, for days on end waiting on the ground floor by the fish tank. His parents would take turns to check him in ICU every hour, only staying for 5 minutes at a time. If we found it distressing to see him there, I can't imagin how hard it was for his parents.
He never woke up.
I will never for the rest of my life forget the wail from his mother as she was told he had passed away. Again, this news was delivered in a lift lobby, on a weekend, when the hospital was short staffed, for all to hear.

And then there are the parents and children we got to know on the wards, so many happy endings, a few uncertain endings with trips to Great Ormond Street planned, and one very sad one. All these parents and children will remain with me and I will never forget them.

The last two apointments Cathal has had in the hospital, he has had to have x-rays. Everytime I hit the button for the lift, my heart jumps up into my mouth and I get an unwavering urger to run out of there as quickly as possible. All the feelings come flooding back, and I suppose they always will. But one thing I noiced last week was how quiet things are up there.

3 weeks ago, St Josephs ward was closed, 25 beds closed indefinatly. One brand new surgical theatre was also closed. It is likely another 2 wards will be shut and possible another theatre over the summer months. And all this for a measly amount of 9million euro. This is how much Crumlin Hospital are over budget, so what do you do when you are over budget? Well of course, didn't you know? You take away vital care for sick children.

Taken from the Irish Times, May 13th 2009:

The hospital plans to close several wards and theatres, and have some 8,000 fewer outpatient attendances this year in a bid to stay within budget. It is currently facing a deficit of €9.6 million.

The hospital board has drawn up a break-even plan that includes the closure of a ward of 25 beds with effect from May 2009 and closure of some 20 more beds in July and August.

Our Lady’s also plans to cut out patient appointments by 15 per cent, shut one theatre for July to December 2009, close two theatres for July and August this year and grant unpaid leave to staff who have expressed a voluntary interest for those two months. Temporary/agency staff contracts will also cease.

Here is just womans's story about her son and how much they depend on Crumlin. When there is no bed available for him, and our other sick children, where will they go? Even before any cuts were implemented, the hospital were full to capacity. Surgeries had to be cancelled due to lack of theatre time and ICU beds. Well now there are 25 less ward beds and one less theatre. Children with heart conditions need to be operated on at a certain time, when they reach the right age or weight, when they are well enough. But the Minister ofr Health is telling us that the sickest children will be treated. So basicaly, this means that the window for the most succesful operation time will lapse while children get sicker, and finally get rushed in as emergencies and in all likely hood will not make it, because the operation was left too late. Crumlin is the only pediatric cardiac centre in the Crumlin, children like Cathal and JAck have no other choice.

For the last few weeks, there has been a growing e-mail campaign. Every TD has been hit. I urge you to do the same. Here is the list of TD's, just copy and paste it into your email.

taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, bertie.ahern@oireachtas.ie, michael.ahern@oireachtas.ie, noel.ahern@oireachtas.ie, bernard.allen@oireachtas.ie, chris.andrews@oireachtas.ie, barry.andrews@oireachtas.ie, sean@ardagh.org, bobby.aylward@oireachtas.ie, james.bannon@oireachtas.ie, sean.barrett@oireachtas.ie, joe.behan@oireachtas.ie, john.browne@oireachtas.ie, aine.brady@oireachtas.ie, cyprian.brady@oireachtas.ie, johnny.brady@oireachtas.ie, pat.breen@oireachtas.ie, thomas.p.broughan@oireachtas.ie, niall.blaney@oireachtas.ie, richard.bruton@oireachtas.ie, ulick.burke@oireachtas.ie, joan.burton@oireachtas.ie, catherine.byrne@oireachtas.ie, thomas.byrne@oireachtas.ie, niall.collins@oireachtas.ie, minister.carey@taoiseach.gov.ie, joe.carey@oireachtas.ie, deirdre.clune@oireachtas.ie, dara.calleary@oireachtas.ie, margaret.conlon@oireachtas.ie, paul.connaughton@oireachtas.ie, sean.connick@oireachtas.ie, michael.creed@oireachtas.ie, joe.costello@oireachtas.ie, simon.coveney@oireachtas.ie, minister@finance.gov.ie, seymour.crawford@oireachtas.ie, noel.coonan@oireachtas.ie, john.cregan@oireachtas.ie, lucinda.creighton@oireachtas.ie, jimmy.devins@oireachtas.ie, minister@welfare.ie,
john.curran@oireachtas.ie, michael.darcy@oireachtas.ie, john.deasy@oireachtas.ie, jdeenihan@eircom.net, minister@transport.ie, ciaran.cuffe@oireachtas.ie, timmy.dooley@oireachtas.ie, andrew.doyle@oireachtas.ie, bernard.durkan@oireachtas.ie, damien.english@oireachtas.ie, michael.fitzpatrick@oireachtas.ie, frank.fahey@oireachtas.ie,
frank.feighan@oireachtas.ie, martin.ferris@oireachtas.ie, michael.finneran@oireachtas.ie, olwyn.enright@oireachtas.ie, charles.flanagan@oireachtas.ie, terence.flanagan@oireachtas.ie,
sean.fleming@oireachtas.ie, beverley.flynn@oireachtas.ie, patthecope.gallagher@oireachtas.ie,paul.gogarty@oireachtas.ie, minister@environ.ie, minister@justice.ie, ministersoffice@dast.gov.ie, minister@dfa.ie, noel.grealish@oireachtas.ie, eamon.gilmore@oireachtas.ie, ministers_office@health.irlgov.ie, brendan.howlin@oireachtas.ie, brian.hayes@oireachtas.ie, tom.hayes@oireachtas.ie, Jackie.Healy.Rae@oireachtas.ie, michael.higgins@oireachtas.ie, maire.hoctor@oireachtas.ie, philip.hogan@oireachtas.ie, sean_haughey@education.gov.ie, paul.kehoe@oireachtas.ie, billy.kelleher@eircom.net, peter.kelly@oireachtas.ie, bwk@eircom.net, michael.kennedy@oireachtas.ie, enda.kenny@oireachtas.ie, ministerofstate@dcmnr.gov.ie, minister.kitt@taoiseach.gov.ie,
michael.kitt@oireachtas.ie, seamus.kirk@oireachtas.ie, brian.lenihan@oireachtas.ie, conor.lenihan@oireachtas.ie, michael.lowry@oireachtas.ie, kathleen.lynch@oireachtas.ie,tom.mcellistrim@oireachtas.ie, martin.mansergh@oireachtas.ie, minister_martin@entemp.ie, padraic.mccormack@oireachtas.ie, jim.mcdaid@oireachtas.ie, ciaran.lynch@oireachtas.ie, shane.mcentee@oireachtas.ie, dinny.mcginley@oireachtas.ie, mattie.mcgrath@oireachtas.ie, michael.mcgrath@oireachtas.ie, finian.mcgrath@oireachtas.ie, minister@agriculture.gov.ie, john.moloney@oireachtas.ie, joe.mchugh@oireachtas.ie, liz.mcmanus@oireachtas.ie, olivia.mitchell@oireachtas.ie, john.mcguinness@oireachtas.ie, arthur.morgan@oireachtas.ie, michael.moynihan.td@oireachtas.ie, michael.mulcahy@oireachtas.ie, denis.naughten@oireachtas.ie, sean.ofearghail@oireachtas.ie, mj.nolan@oireachtas.ie, michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie, ocaolain@oireachtas.ie, aire@pobail.ie, minister_okeeffe@education.gov.ie, daniel.neville@oireachtas.ie, aengus.osnodaigh@oireachtas.ie, darragh.obrien@oireachtas.ie, charlie.oconnor@oireachtas.ie, kieran.odonnell@oireachtas.ie, john.odonoghue@oireachtas.ie, fergus.odowd@oireachtas.ie, noel.oflynn@oireachtas.ie, rory.ohanlon@oireachtas.ie, webmaster@defence.irlgov.ie, jim.okeeffe@oireachtas.ie, ned.okeeffe@oireachtas.ie, john.omahony@oireachtas.ie, sean.power@oireachtas.ie, boshea@eircom.net, christy.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, willie.penrose@oireachtas, john.perry@oireachtas.ie, mary.orourke@Oireachtas.ie, peter.power@oireachtas.ie, ruairi.quinn@oireachtas.ie, pat.rabbitte@oireachtas.ie, james.reilly@oireachtas.ie, alan.shatter@oireachtas.ie, dick.roche@oireachtas.ie, tanaiste@entemp.ie, minister.ryan@dcmnr.gov.ie, trevor.sargent@oireachtas.ie, eamon.scanlon@oireachtas.ie, michael.ring@oireachtas.ie, pj.sheehan@oireachtas.ie, sean.sherlock@oireachtas.ie, tom.sheahan@oireachtas.ie, roisin.shortall@oireachtas.ie, joanna.tuffy@oireachtas.ie, emmet.stagg@oireachtas.ie, david.stanton@oireachtas.ie, billy.timmins@oireachtas.ie, noel.treacy@oireachtas.ie, mary.upton@oireachtas.ie, michael.woods@oireachtas.ie, jack.wall@oireachtas.ie, mary_wallace@health.irlgov.ie, marya.white@oireachtas.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie

Most of them should go through, as of yet, not one member of the governement has contacted me. Maybe you will have more luck.

There is also an on-line petition. Please sign it. Once you sign, it brings you to a donation page, just ignore that, it's got nothing to do with the petition itself, and your signature will be registered even if you close that page. You'll see what I mean.

Campaign Against Cutbacks in Crumlin

P.S. Well done to Aisling and Jack from the TV3 video, Aisling has been a power house behind this campaign, along with another cardiac mammy. She has gotten into most of the papers with her story, and met a senator or two. She set up the petition, and is an amazing woman!!!


Hammie said...

When I heard today that someone had won 29 million in the euro lottery, I thought - Give it to us. Not that we should let the bastards who failed to regulate our banking, who pay themselves bonuses, redundancy (every outgoing FF councillor gets a wedge to take with them) and yet allow Crumlin and every other public hospital to run into trouble. Even it they asked all the consultants they paid to come up with the idea of a National Childrens hospital, to give back 10% of their fee - it would cover it.

I wonder how difficult it would be for a charity to set up a private room, like the rainbows room they have in hospices, for parents to hear the news and make their peace with their child?

This is fucking awful S, But you have told the story and we will all repeat it until we see a change.

Mel said...

You have me in tears again. I hope the memories fade a little for you every day, and that you never have to go through it again, for Cathal, or any of you future children :)

As for the hospital- politicians are bastards, and should be shot. It is so tiring fighting the bureaucracy all the time. I admire your strength. I thought our health system was bad- yours sounds worse. Considered a move to NZ?!

jazzygal said...

Well written CathalsMammy.

it's just a shocking state of that when they can refuse ( that's what it amounts too) seriously ill children (and adults) appropriate and timely medical intervention. There are some things that shouldn't be cut back on.

Yes they're over budget...the HSE is overstaffed too. People should lose jobs before patients are made to suffer.

Delighted to hear Cathal's doing so well!