Michele Baldwin’s cervical cancer story

With a few months to live, Michele Baldwin paddle boarded over 700 miles down the Ganges River to help raise awareness about cervical cancer.

Thank you to Sara Fitzgibbon for posting a link to it that I spotted (@barb287)


Flying in the face of the facts of your life

From Nuala O’Faolain’s ‘Are You Somebody?’

“When I was in my early thirties, and entering a bad period of my life, … I asked the doctor to send me to a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist was in an office in a hospital. ‘Well, now, let’s get your name right to begin with,’ he said cheerfully. ‘What is your name?’

‘My name is … my name is …’ I could not say my name. I cried, as from an ocean of tears, for the rest of the hour. My self was too sorrowful to speak. And I was in the wrong place, in England. My name was a burden to me.

Not that the psychiatrist saw it like that. I only went to him once more, but I did manage to get out a bit about my background and about the way I was living.

Eventually he said something that lifted a corner of the fog of unconsciousness. ‘You are going to great trouble,’ he said, ‘and flying in the face of the facts of your life, to recreate your mother’s life.’ Once he said this, I could see it was true.”

It’s a summer’s day in Oslo, and my first caesarean section, by Samuel McManus

From The Irish Times:

And its then I realise what I experienced in the operating theatre earlier in the day, pulling the puff-eyed infant, coiled in the womb, under its shroud, yet to cry, yet to see, yet to know, into the white light of existence. Witnessing the birth revealed not just the wonder of a new life, but it was a tear in the curtain, a possible situation where Being momentarily exposed its nature. The experience has left a ripple on the water, a diminishing echo throughout the day, and lent this short boat trip with my son a type of transcendent depth.

Read the full article here >>>

Eight days on a trolley in an Irish hospital – a diary, by John Keogh

From The Irish Times, 09/07/2019

The quiet reception was deceiving. Down here it’s bedlam. Trolleys line both sides of every corridor, ill and distressed patients packed in head to foot. It’s a tight squeeze to get a trolley down the middle, and more than once the corner of my trolley clatters off another. It’s a sound I will become familiar with. That and the alarms. And the shouting. In A&E, there is always shouting.

Read the full article here >>>

Feedback from Belmont University students

I literally loved the presentation.

It was truly amazing.

I was moved by it …

Belmont University student

I recently gave a presentation to public health & nursing students from Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee) who were on a study abroad trip to learn about other healthcare systems in action.

Belmont University Study Abroad Students in TCD’s Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre

The title of my lecture was ‘Creating & (not?) Meeting Expectations: new thinking needed on nursing & midwifery in Ireland’. I briefly discussed how our ideas of nursing have been established historically (e.g. Florence Nightingale & Walt Whitman) & culturally (e.g. Leanne O’Sullivan – ‘Leaving Early’ & Eleanor Hooker – ‘The Man in Bed Eight’), and then – applying principles of close reading as taken from study of literature – used transcripts of some calls made to RTÉ’s Liveline during the extensive coverage of maternity experiences, to examine how those ideas & ideals are not sustainable, and what we might do to adjust our healthcare systems to modern healthcare expectations.

I’m pleased to say it was well received, as summarised here by the Director of Public Health Program at the College of Health Sciences & Nursing:

Thank you again for speaking to our public health and nursing students.  All of my students commented on how impactful it was to hear the patient testimonies you shared and thoroughly enjoyed the link between humanities and medicine that you so aptly illustrated.  

Director of Public Health Program, Belmont Univeristy

A GP troubled by an autopsy report

So that the local surgery can close my son’s file, I take the translated autopsy report to a young GP, who sits with his head in his hands, saying, ‘I wasn’t trained to deal with this. We didn’t get to read autopsies. This is absolutely horrendous.’ Perhaps he doesn’t have his own children. Or he does. I do my best to reassure him that it’s usual to search out each detail [as a parent], to try to know. To keep your child company in its death.

Denise Riley, from Time Lived, Without Its Flow