Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On Thinking Thoughts and Talking Small....


It was a kind of surreal conversation that surrounded me that day. It was like I was there, which I was - right there stage centre, can't miss me - but they were acting as if I wasn't. I didn't know what was expected of me you see. Should I try to join in from my precarious centre stage position, or should I just let them carry on..... ?

I guess it was something like being in a Doctor's surgery, or at the hairdressers - where there is an expected amount of small talk to be engaged in with every person that comes in contact with you. Exhausting, but it does put everyone at ease and makes the time fly by. Besides, in these situations the conversation signals are easier to read, you just join in - or pick up a magazine when they're blow-drying your hair so that everyone knows that conversation is no longer expected.

But this situation was entirely new to me. Eventually I just gave a wan, lop-sided smile, from my awkward tummy-lying position; hoping that this was a middle-of-the-road response that would cover all angles. Then everything went black........

ONE HOUR EARLIER..........

I was just lying there, having smiled at everyone I came in contact with and engaged in the necessary - and sometimes unnecessary, it must be said - small talk. I was nervous you see. Very nervous. Even though I had no reason to be, not really. I'd been through this a few times before, But now I was relaxing, nodding off even, while I awaited my 'treatment'. And then suddenly, before I could even gather my thoughts, along came the person to bring me along to the next stage.

As I was wheeled in and out of lifts, and up and down, and along bright and sterile corridors, my mind began to wander.....

It meandered between what we'd have for dinner later that evening, to hoping that the Teen Boy had remembered, - and not lost, thrown away, eaten?,  - his hall door key, to 'please God, please let me come out of this in one piece. Better, if at all possible .... oh, and a few highlights and a bit of nice make-up would be lovely too'.

Unfortunately though, this was not a treatment of the beauty variety that I was being brought to, but rather one of the hospital kind. And one that required a rather large needle too. Well, there was another needle or two before the rather large needle was injected into my back, and not a million miles away from my spine either it must be said. Sure no wonder I was nervous.

I was delighted though that one of the needles would contain 'lots of lovely sedation' , as I said to everyone that I came in contact with, lest they'd forget and wouldn't give me enough. Or not give me any at all. Although I very much doubted they'd ever do that to me again. I've no doubt that the day they gave me this treatment without sedation is a day that has gone down in the annals of this hospital, never to be forgotten or repeated, ever again. In case my reaction would again frighten other patients waiting in line, like an injured human conveyor belt, for their 'turn'. It might even make this procedure completely obsolete! Oh no, sedation it most definitely will be.

So anyway, back to the corridor where I'm being pushed in a wheelchair with my thoughts going to places they had no right going, and thinking of the 'lovely sedation' that I was absolutely going to get. And then I thought: 'I know a General Anesthetic has more risks but what if I don't wake up after the sedation? Sure that couldn't happen, could it? I've too much left undone in this world, sure I'd have to come back to do all my 'jobs', especially one very important one. Nah, it'll have to be okay..... but what if it's not?

Okay, so if it's not what would the last things I'd see and hear on this earth then? See, I told you my mind went places it had no right to go.

'Well, I wouldn't want it to be that boring hospital notice over there,' I thought to myself. 'Nor that official sounding one on that door,' I mused.

'Oh, wait a minute,' I exclaimed in my mind as I was pushed through the double doors, 'what's that notice on that board I see.... 'Don't forget to.... bring your... Christmas Party.... deposits in this week... €10'. Ah yes, a Christmas Party, now that's more like it!'

So that was that all sorted then, I thought happily to myself.

Except it wasn't. I still hadn't reached my final destination you see, and instead was left in a kind of ante room to the operating theatre. *Gulps* . When the beeps stopped beeping then it would be my turn... on the table, so the speak... I was gleefully informed. *Gulps again... BIG ones*

I then flicked through some magazines desperately trying to distract myself again. Something here that would be the last thing I'd remember?..... ooh look, a pretty photo of my friend, Lisa Maree Domican !! Now, that really did distract me!

Then I was told that the radiologist would be here soon to give me me my 'lots of lovely sedation'. Okay, I can do this, no bother, I thought ...... and then I remembered.... OH CRAP..... it was a radiologist who gave me that treatment before wasn't it? You know the one I told you about above.... the one with 'Marathon Man' written all over it. - I refer of course to that movie with the sadistic dentist, except in my case it was a 'misinformed' ( chronic pain means CHRONIC PAIN Mister, so treat with due consideration!) Radiologist, and the pain inflicted was 'Marathon Man' multiplied by a factor of TEN, at least. My shocked sobs and screams lasted for a very long time after the procedure, and must have reverberated through the theatre and beyond for far, far longer.......

And then suddenly my radiologist appeared, fingers itching to get all sorts of wires etc linked to the canula which had already been inserted into my arm. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief on seeing that it was a different radiologist, and I was indeed getting 'lots of lovely sedation'.

Then things happened very quickly. I was wheeled into the operating theatre where there were lots of nurses and assistants buzzing around, following the usual routine for the next injured human on the conveyor belt, i.e. me! With great difficulty in preserving my dignity, I hauled my injured body from one trolley to end up tummy-down on another, and without further ado I was attached to all sorts of contraptions, while I listened to the conversation around me.....

After all the small talk and ensuring that I was well informed at all stages along the way,  they were all now suddenly ignoring me! My Consultant, that would be the one who was about to stick a rather large needle in my back not too far from my spine, and his head nurse were discussing the ways of getting out of changing the duvet covers with their other halves at home! I was fascinated.....

Apparently 'but you're so good at doing it, much better than me' is the best, and safest way to do it.

And apparently these would be the last words I'd hear on this earth....... then everything went black.

But of course the weren't the last thing I heard, else I wouldn't be here to tell the tale now, would I!

It appears that post-Nerve Block procedure I now feel slightly better than I did before.......... but I still need highlights and some face-paint.

But that will be a whole other story....... and a whole lot more small talk!


xx




Note: For any of you needing Nerve Block procedures here's what I learned:

                                      Nerve Block 'Highlights' (!!)

The thing about these procedures is that the patient's reaction dictates it's success while undergoing the procedure - i.e. if the patient screams they've hit the spot. 
  • A Pain Management Consultant (some of them, not all) take a more humane approach and sedate you, so that you're just under, will still respond, but will not remember.
  • A radiologist's skills and the way he/she does their work means that they've a much more targeted way of hitting the nerve to block it. But they don't sedate you. 
I felt that the Pain Management route is the most humane, and while the radiologist's technique ultimately gave me the most relief (for a while) it was excruciatingly painful and the memory of that pain stayed with me for a long time afterwards. I've had 4 nerve blocks now and it's the sedation route for me if I need any more.

The choice however is yours to make.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Forgotten 'Worker'.......


I don't know why I put myself through it, yet still I did it ..... I listened to the details of Budget 2015 the other day. It was a slightly better budget compared to those of more recent years, and it was jokingly thought to have been yet again translated from it's mother language, i.e. German!  There were little presents to the lower and middle income earners of Ireland in the form of extra tax relief and an increase in child benefit. It did irk me a little that all the calculation examples quoted on the evening news programmes added the tax relief due for Water Tax, even though this relief isn't claimable until 2016, and didn't reduce any gain by the cost of said Water Tax charges to reflect this budget's true net effect. In fact this Budget was pretty much neutral. For some, for others it was a loss, due to some anomalies.

Later that evening I listened to the comments and concerns from the sample panel of a small cross-section of our society, and I agreed with their points of view. 

I also heard the usual argument against the universal way that we allow child benefit to all, including the 'rich'. People would have preferred that it be given in the form of childcare relief, to facilitate mothers (it's usually the mothers) who work outside the home.

I also listened to, and agreed with, the working mothers who put their points forward with regards to the costs of going to work ie childcare.I listened to, and agreed with, a mother who is a Carer to her son who has 'additional needs', who now has options to either work or to do further study. The obstacle in her path for both was also the cost  of childcare.

In recent years the cost of childcare is highlighted again and again and again. And rightly so. All Governments in the past decade or so have resided over a policy of ensuring that mothers who's children were at school to get out there and get a job. That policy pervaded in boom and bust years alike, and I believe that that policy is Individualisation.

Now also during the above period there were mothers who either financially needed to work or preferred to be a working mum. It's entirely irrelevant why the mother is working really. Working mothers contribute to the working ethics of this country and to the state coffers (as well as taking care of home and child duties.) If childcare costs are seriously affecting any mothers choice to work then we should recognise that and make any tax allowances that's required. 

But we should not abolish child benefit as it stands and replace it with a childcare allowance, or Tax Credit.

Not unless you also grant it to those who don't 'work' but provide another form of childcare. 

And it's this group of Irish citizens that has been repeatedly ignored, in budget after budget, year after year.... also ever since the introduction of Individualisation. In fact this group of mothers very rarely get a mention, so much so that they don't even have a voice anymore. And that really saddens me. I'm also very much concerned about how Government after Government seems to see the preferred family unit as one where both parents work, if jobs are available. 

Yes, this group I refer to are of course those mothers who by choice or necessity stay home all day to mind the children.

And like working mothers it's also entirely irrelevant why they are stay-at-home-mums. The fact that they don't contribute to the state coffers seems to have a bearing, I don't believe that any Government in the past 14 years has ever acknowledged the contribution that a lot of these mothers also make to society (via extensive voluntary work in schools and parishes etc;etc;etc,) as well as to home life. Besides, as I've said before 'Not all contributions to our society can be measured in financial or economic terms. 

You may wonder why I blame Individualisation as a problem for both women who go out to work and women who stay at home. Well, I'll tell you why:

  • Individualisation replaced the aggregation form of taxation for married couples and was introduced in Budget 2000. One of the reasons it was introduced was as I've said before: 'it was felt that women were incentivised to' seek economic independence' .
  • In fact the effect of this new way of treating married couples, which meant a financial hit to those families where the mother stayed home, was that a lot of women with children went back to work as they couldn't afford not to. Older couples whose children were fully grown up were also affected in this manner. It may have suited some of them to do so but that's not the point.
  • Then along came the recession in approx 2008 and a lot of jobs were lost. A lot of these jobs were part time jobs. And a lot of these part time jobs were filled by women.
  • Individualisation helped fill all those vacant positions from 2000 (Fianna Fail either planned this -and I believe they did - or it was an unexpected huge bonus) and when a lot of those positions were no longer there Individualisation was still retained.
  • While this Individualisation did recognise the stay-at-home-parent by introducing the paltry  'Home Carer Tax Credit', the Government of the day only granted it  due to the uproar caused at the time; the one and only time that the SAHM's very loud voice was heard.
  • While most family tax credits have received a tweaking over the years, the Home Carers Tax Credit has only been slightly increased once in the 14 years since it was introduced. Despite salary increases and tax decreases during part of that time, all Governments continue to value the work that these parents do to the tune of approx €14.80 per week.

So, what do I want? I want to see a Government that encompasses and values all family choices as regards working in or outside the home, and all forms of childcare. 

I'd like a Government that makes any necessary adjustments that makes it financially viable for a family to choose whatever form of childcare or work choices that they find suitable, or necessary, for their family unit., 

I want us a society to not value one over the other, to see the value that both working and Stay-At-Home-Mums (or dads) bring to our nation and to the future of our society.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Impatient Patient and the Ten Minute Beauty Walk........


You know, it's only when you look back that you realise how far you've come. And for the times that you want to take a quick peek back, to see exactly how you've felt at a difficult or prominent moment in time, it's then that you realise how good it really is to have a blog. It might even encourage you to continue with it; if you've been having doubts that you can continue, that is.

And I really have been having those thoughts. Maybe after six years of chronologising my life, writing about things I'm passionate about, or sharing some humorous moments, that it's time for me to just, stop.

But, what would I do with my free time?

I had the same thought when I came home from hospital six weeks ago. I'd no idea what I'd do with my suddenly enforced free time, given that I was on one crutch, on controlled medications and forbidden to do a lot of basic housework.

I know, it's a wonderful longed for moment, isn't it? The one where you're told 'no  more housework' for some time to come! I mean, there I was during the earlier summer months, lazing in the glorious summer sunshine every chance I got, feeling slightly guilty about the housework I knew needed doing, yet knowing that I absolutely would to do it...... anon. And now here I was with the perfect reason for NOT doing it - while the end-of Summer sunshine still beamed down from above.....

Except, the end-of-Summer now has a distinct cooler, Autumnal feel about it. There's no sitting out in it now that I can, sit that is, but it is lovely to look out at or to brave yourself for a short hop-a-long stroll to the beach! In fairness, it's more of a mixed stroll that starts off with a determined 'look-at-me-power-walking-with one-crutch' look fixed firmly on my face; that ultimately sees me coming home again ten minutes later at a much slower pace, slightly dragging my left leg behind me; like a demented pirate-tress... gone dreadfully wrong!

However it's definitely worth the 'walk' that I do, to be bolstered and renewed by the beauty I see all around me in that ten minutes.....




I guess life on one crutch hasn't been all that bad, not really. It's just so restricting for an active and terribly impatient patient such as myself. I should really just totally embrace this whole 'forget the housework' thing and just relax, get fully better. It's funny really, it's very hard to sit indoors day after day, watching the dust and sheer untidiness build and build, until you fear you may drown in it. So much so that you set yourself tiny little tasks to achieve each day, besides making the meals and while totally sticking to the no hoovering rule!

And so, the last six weeks have passed, with a lot of resting, book reading and with a little spot of knitting and crocheting thrown in for some variety. Of course, I've also had a lot of visitors and some lovely outings too. And I thank my good friend Looking for Blue Sky, for getting me to and from one recent coffee/tea morning reunion!

You'd think with all this free time, in between the above activities that is, there'd be time for some more blogging too, wouldn't you? But, I've been strangely disinclined. I've only blogged when I had something specific to share with you, but nothing in between. I suppose it's to be expected really, given that I'm not out and about experiencing life as much as I had been. And I guess, I just kind of, ran out of things, to say......

Or had ideas of what I might say; little thoughts that would flit through my mind on occasion, only to flitter away again, like a drunken butterfly on a sudden burst of an end-of-summer breeze.

Or maybe the medication has invaded my thoughts too, making them as random as it makes my dreams! Seriously, the dreams while on these meds are totally out there! And using language like 'out there' is absolutely fitting and should plant a firm idea in your head of my nocturnal experiences. I can't even snooze without them invading my mind! I wasn't all that far off with my 'Opiate Disclaimer' in my hospital posts after all!

So here I am, possibly nearing the end of my enforced free-time, as a recent Doctor review might imply. Although there are some much looked forward to events and outings that I have to say no to, until the New year at least. And while there's one not so nice hospital procedure that I soon must have, I can look back through some recent blog entries and really see how far I have come since my hospitalisation.

I really should concentrate on enjoying the remaining free time that my injury has imposed on me, making the most of the opportunity to do more of the sedentary activities I enjoy, rather than focusing on what I'm missing. 'Positive thinking for the recovering injured person', if you like!

Besides, my Doctor has just said 'yes' to driving and to the odd glass of wine!

Now there's progress!

Take care out there....

xx









Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Legendary Lady and the 'Dancocabin' 'Audition'......


We were so nervous, even though we had rehearsed and rehearsed, over and over. We knew the dance routine inside and out. We danced it umpteen times at the weekly dance class that we'd been attending for years. We also used the time that would be otherwise wasted as we danced it at the bus stop, as we walked down the street, and in the shower. Usually in our heads, but sometimes not! Especially if there were a few of us waiting on Fairview Strand to get the bus home from Monday night dance class at 10 pm at night!

But this was an extra rehearsal, squeezed in the week before the big show, so much so that the only venue free was the portocabin in her back garden!

It's not like it was the first show we'd ever done in our lives. As adults we were well versed in stage performance and stage and rehearsal etiquette and discipline. This had been instilled in us from our years of rehearsing with varied Choreographers and Directors, but most especially with both of this stage-school founding lady's daughters. We adored the choreography style of both her daughters, attending classes by Lorraine and doing fantastic shows with Joan. But it was through the dance classes that we met the lady herself...

So here we were. All 20 (approx) of us squeezed into this lady's 'dancocabin' - or Dance Studio as it would be dubbed these days! - with Lorraine once more putting us through our paces. This dance routine, all  7 minutes of it, had to be foot perfect, with every toe pointed throughout, as it was to be the finale number of this well known and respected lady's then biennial show. So we worked really hard as the routine was dissected, each section - especially the lifts, were tweaked to perfection and put neatly back together. Yet again.

And then it was time. 'Mammy' was coming out to assess if we dancers would be acceptable for the finale number.

The nervous adrenaline, the good type - the one that fuels your body to dance your little legs off - was palpable in the air as 'Mammy' entered. It was a small space and it seemed to expand so as to fit the aura of this awe-inspiring lady. Most of us had never been one of her 'kids' but were we to be now considered her 'seniors'? 

We greeted her as the adults we were, but gave her the respect that all her 'kids' gave her and addressed her as they did - 'Miss Barry' Not because we were afraid of her in anyway. No, not at all. We were in awe of her, we wanted her to also respect us and our dancing efforts.....

And so we put our nervous energy to good use that day in that extraordinary 'dancocabin', we plastered the smiles on our faces as the sweat dripped down our backs and gave the performance of our lives. It didn't matter that we didn't have the space, although we may have balked a tad when any of us made the front row and were practically face-to-face with her! - we just did the routine, lifts and tap section included. Full out. All 7 minutes of it. It was an amazingly choreographed routine that used every single beat of the music, and more.

And then, gasping for breath with the sweat oozing out of every pore, we awaited the verdict...

We had of course been discreetly watching her reaction throughout the number as she scanned us all and then the number as a whole. As I've said before: 'She was always extremely encouraging to us but showed no facial reaction whilst we were dancing, so it was nerve racking to wait until the end to hear her judgement! Kept us all, boys included, on our twinkle toes, that's for sure!!'

Miss Barry looked at us and nodded to Lorraine saying 'very good..... very good' She talked a little to us, thanked us too, and then she left.

We had passed the 'audition' so went on to perform in her show and then another one two years later. The boys even got their own number one year...

                                               
                                                       Boys with Angeline Ball  
                                                       image credit  to evoke.ie

The legendary  Billie Barry Stage School has been in the capable hands of her daughter Lorraine for some years now and the entertainment provided by the school's shows continues to be simply outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed the two recent shows I went to see and really hope to go see their 50th anniversary, Golden Jubilee show 'Gold' next month.

And so it was with great sadness that I heard of the death yesterday of this awe-inspiring, glamorous and legendary woman - Billie Barry. She gave much encouragement to every dancer or performer who came her way, and some rose to stardom or were led to a stage type career as a result of attending her school.


                                                image credit to news.msn.ie

May she rest peacefully, safe in the knowledge that her legacy will continue through her children and hopefully, in time, through her grand-children.

I continue to think fondly of her and our stage experiences and my thoughts and prayers go to her whole family, but most especially to her daughters Joan and Lorraine.
My love to you both, girls.


xxxx





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

'Over The Tops': A Tops of the Town Musical Theatre Workshop...


It's almost a year since we had our John Player Tops of the Town reunion. It was a wonderful evening, presenting a fantastic opportunity for us all to meet people we hadn't seen in at least twenty years. We left in the early morning hours, with the parting comment being that maybe we would do 'one more [show] for the road'

Yes, admittedly the subject of another show was discussed on the night! Although the reality of the morning after did hit we didn't entirely forget what was said. A seasoned few fellow performers got together and had some subsequent and very secret meetings! Our ultimate decision was that we should bravely dip our sequined twinkle-toed feet into the water and have a reunion Workshop. Let's see how many other post-40 (and in particular post-50) ex-dancers are as mad as we are and are prepared to dust off their dance shoes and take to the stage once more!


So, without further ado I give you our 'Over The Tops' Musical Theatre Workshop. It's bound to combine the heady mixture of hard work, sweaty bodies, no lycra (please God no Lycra!) with some giggles and a whole lot of fun! We have a Dream Team of a Production team with:  Joan Kenny, dancer/choreographer/director of huge experience, as our Choreographer, Andy O'Callaghan, a well known musical director who is also currently composer for Mrs Brown's Boys and Mrs Brown D'Movie, as our MD and Tony Finnegan, an award winning actor and director, as our Director.




So, if you're over 40 and were involved in any way with Tops of the Town, or musicals, and fancy joining us in the Dance House, Foley Street on Sunday October 5th then all you have to do is book your place here. Then dig your dance shoes out of wherever they've been hidden and just turn up!

If you don't live in Dublin or the date doesn't suit you and you are interested then just email us at info@overthetops.com as we are planning more workshops NATIONWIDE!

You just never know what may come out of this workshop..........


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mental Health Awareness.....


This is Mental Health Awareness Week. A week to lift up the carpet, releasing the veil of secrecy and perceived shame surrounding this illness, and to raise awareness. I guess it's all about getting it out into the open and removing the stigma attached to this 'invisible illness', as it's being tagged on twitter.

I'm all for it being openly discussed, so that no-one need feel ashamed when this illness hits them or if they have a friend or family member who has a mental health disorder. So that no-one feels hostile to mental illness That it's  a subject so openly discussed that they feel they can turn to family or friends requesting help and support, and then receive the necessary health care if required.

And that's where it can start to breakdown.

 It is wonderful when your loved one, or friend, feels that they can open up to you and admit how they are feeling. You can offer support; a listening ear, a comforting shoulder and even a cup of tea. That may appease things awhile, keeping the 'demons' at bay, but sometimes such support is but a band-aid that needs ever more regular changing. And there's only so much cups of tea one can drink, and only so much helplines can help.

While it's important that someone suffering with depression can turn to their family, it's important to point out that family are not always best equipped to deal with this illness, one that has many presentations particular to each sufferer. Families familiar with their loved ones illness eventually know when it's time to send for professional psychiatric help.

But that help can be very difficult to attain.

In my parent's generation things like this were never discussed, just a quick knowing nod accompanied by the familiar side-of-the-mouth, barely whispered - 'suffers with her nerves, you know' over the garden fence. I learned from them, at a very young age, to never tell anyone. No-one must ever know. You keep it to yourself at all costs. If I don't say anything then maybe it's not true? It will be fixed and our much loved family member would be returned to us as if nothing ever happened? Of course things didn't work out like that, things just ran their course as they always did and would continue to do in the future to come.

You see Mental Illness doesn't just affect the sufferer, it effects the whole family unit too. It can escalate into a very difficult situation very quickly, and help can be very difficult to attain. It is heartbreaking to see your loved one disintegrate before your eyes. I have no idea how horrendous these episodes are for the sufferer but to watch, knowing that all you can do is monitor and keep them safe until help arrives, is emotionally devastating. And help can take a long time to arrive. Especially if a breakdown peaks on a weekend. And in my experience they always peak on weekends. While it's the person in distress who's suffering the most, you bear this unbelievably distressing and stressful situation as best you can. Until Monday arrives and the doctor can be contacted, to once more set the complicated and slow turning wheels of assistance in motion.

I said it before and I'll say it again: I'd prefer to have Broken Bones than a broken mind, any day.

So, in order to raise Mental Health Awareness in this the year of 2014 what changes would I like to see happen, that would a difference to those who suffer with mental illness and their families?

  • That all psychiatric hospitals follow the St Ita example and are co-located with an acute one.
  • That all psychiatric nurses are allowed to use their basic general nursing skills. That would allow them to administer a drip (among other things) to a psychiatric patient who is, say,  dehydrated as a result of them not eating and drinking for days. This would in turn avoid the complicated efforts of transferring a patient from a psychiatric hospital to an acute one. And back again, which is where the real difficulties begin.
  • That they remove the idiotic rule that a patient cannot be transferred directly from an acute hospital to a psychiatric one. 
  • Of course if they implement the first one above they then perhaps alleviate the next two?
  • That they review the protocols around transporting a psychiatric patient to hospital. I know it's important to acknowledge staff safety in these sometimes seriously dangerous situations but is a police escort always necessary? Even if a patient is confirmed to be in a catatonic state? Can they not 'rate' the patient with regards to any possible violence, as assessed by their GP or community nurse?
  • That they can also examine how necessary it really is that someone else must accompany them on the journey. This sometimes necessitates a nurse/carer from a nursing home or a community nurse (if no family member available) being expected to leave their duties to accompany a patient to a psychiatric hospital that is usually remotely located miles away, with no means of transport to get back!
  • That they review protocols for ambulance personnel refusing to take a psychiatric patient who is distressed but not violent, and clearly needs help but says they don't want to go. It can't be right that they walk away from such a scenario.......
  • That proper supports are available in the community upon their release to support both the patient and their family. There are good supports available but an emergency helpline would be helpful.
  • That these supports be available at weekends also. There's doctor-on-call services for people with medical emergencies, why not something on a smaller scale for mental health emergencies? I know that a local psychiatric hospital does have a kind of doctor-on-call service, only for patients that attend their clinic, and they promise that you will be seen within a certain number of hours (24 or more). I have yet to see that happen.
  • That patients with mental health illnesses have more options apart from a weekly clinic. You and I can go to a GP any day of the week but a psychiatric patient usually has to wait a week to get seen!
  • That all professionals don't get so bogged down with the patient's rights that they let that over rule the patients need for treatment.

I don't think it's too much ask for really, is it?





*Please note, if you suffer from mental illness you can seek help from  Aware or Pieta House  if you feel the need to talk to someone. They are there to help.










Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gotta Dance......


'I want to dance like her Mammy', said the awestruck three year old little me, many moons ago. Standing there right in front of the black and white TV screen, with both hands touching the beautiful ballerina as she danced pirouettes and grand jetés all across the stage. And arabesques too...


                                                photo credit: danceviewtimes.com

I had to wait a few years before my wish was granted. And a few months more to get the leotard, tights and beautiful pink ballet shoes that were my most prized possessions, ever. How could my parents have ever doubted whether or not I'd 'stick to it'?

I didn't just 'stick to it' as regards Ballet, but as I grew older I embraced all forms of musical theatre style dancing, and dancing became more and more a huge part of my life. I adored it and worked very, very hard to become the best dancer I could be..... dancing pirouettes and grand jetés of my own all across the stage.

Fast forward a year or twenty to the young adult who went away with her non-dancing friends and whom, after some silly 'shenanigans', came home with torn ankle ligaments. I did a right job of it too, ending up in hospital for a week. I eventually came home with crutches, a cast on my leg and some daily Physio exercises to do. I do recall that the first question I asked my doctor after my operation wasn't 'will I walk again?' oh no, it was the far more important 'will I dance again'? He assured me that yes, I would.

So, off I went doing my set exercises three times daily, plus any other dance-like stretches I could manage. My aim was to strengthen the rest of my body so that it could best support my weakened leg when the cast came off. Before long I was back dancing in my magical world of  the stage, finding that, thanks to my strict exercise regime, I could now do the splits! A move I had long since yearned to do, and now I could. I was back stronger than ever it seemed.

Myself and my friends went from show to show and musical society to musical society, with oodles of dance classes in between, dancing our way up the twinkle toed ladder. There are lots of magical moments that stand out from that era and our Tops of the Town days are right up there as the most special. Adding the spice of competition to the magical elements of dancing on stage and you've got one helluva show.....and some fantastic memories too.




But the years roll on and the dancer grows up. I'm now a 50 something stay-at-home-mum to a teenager, living in suburbia, who along the way found an interest in doing some choreography. Being a Desperate Housewife is clearly not interesting enough for me it seems. It's not a huge amount of choreography, just some local school shows. But I do adore it. I adore passing on the stage experience I've gained to this generation and seeing the starlight gleam in their eyes as they perform on stage. I like to believe that in doing what I do, I am doing my bit to help keep the spirit of musical theatre and musical societies alive for another talented generation.

Fast forward thirty years or so and this 50 something, dancing mum, finds herself hit by another debilitating injury and is laid up for goodness knows how long. A back injury this time, hugely impacting on my left leg, sustained by attending a Pilates class of all things and this time I was hospitalised for three weeks. Once more the first question I asked my Doctors and Physiotherapist was 'will I dance again'? However this time the answers ranged from a 'maybe' ,to a shrug accompanied by a 'we'll see' ,to an implied 'never' - there's a huge twinkle toed grand jeté of a difference between a 'maybe' and a 'never' you know.

 It may be thirty years later but yet again here I am with one crutch, frenetically doing my Physio exercises three times daily, plus some short walks. However this time dance-like stretches cannot be done and I doubt I'll be performing the splits any time soon!

There will be no long walks, exercise classes or dancing opportunities for me either, for quite some time to come.

This really saddens me, especially since a project myself and some of my dancing friends have been secretly working on since last year is soon to come to fruition. And it's looking like I will not be partaking.

So, is this it for me? Nature's way of reminding me of my age, dragging me firmly into my fifties with me throwing a strop because I clearly don't want to?

I don't think so, despite what they say. I know I'll have to be careful, it is a back injury after all. But there has to be a way and I aim to find it.

Dancing is in my DNA and besides, I'm not quite ready to hang up my dancing shoes just yet......