Friday, 14 March 2008

Swimming the Atlantic in Treacle

Hi All,

Are you ready for your next installment? Well here goes, after that investigation which was carried out with surgical precision, -( how else would they have traced all those lost letters?), on Sept. 27th last, we miraculously arrived at the top of the waiting list in Enable Ireland. Champagne corks popped - metaphorically at least as by this time we were up to our what's its in stress with the living related transplant only weeks away.

A social worker was dispatched to our humble abode for the requisite tea and sympathy chat so that a report could be written. So far, so familiar. A very neatly typed report arrived shortly afterwards giving full details of Rory's needs, medical history and stating that we would be admitted for Occupational, Speech and Language therapy but that also there would be input from the in house psychology team ( to review Rory's developmental delay) and that physiotherapy would be offered when a slot became available. Happy days, finally things seem to be sitting into place, and what with a kidney arriving shortly we were in danger of having a happily ever after moment here!

So we merrily went about our business, donating kidneys and generally getting on with the business of daily life. We were blissfully at one with the universe, safe in the knowledge that we had all the systems in place to ensure the best possible outcome for the new kidney. We were discharged from hospital - celebrated Christmas among our nearest and dearest, gave thanks for the amazing second chance at life that our son had been given. Nursed Niall back to health and generally basked in the enormity of what had just happened to our family.

January came - and with it the usual winter bugs and doses so we found ourselves back in hospital for much of that month. I began to get a little frustrated as progress seemed to have reversed so I decided that we should maybe speed up this speech therapy lark. The fact that Rory was still not eating was seriously beginning to complicate our lives. The balance of the anti-rejection drugs was still like playing pharmaceutical Russian Roulette and his lack of normal dietary intake was playing havoc with his sodium balance. This kid needed to start eating now!

With this in mind, I flicked into responsible parent mode again and rang Enable Ireland to arrange a home visit as Rory was still not allowed out in public due to the imuno-suppression.
The feeling I experienced during that phone call will follow me to the grave. I very politely asked to speak to the Speech Therapist, to be told 'Oh her, she resigned before Christmas" "and nobody thought to tell me"? I enquired. A more senior member of staff was called for clearly, and I was assured I would be contacted without delay. Still reeling when the phone rang, I felt surely this was just a mere glitch and of course there are systems in place for events such as this. I explained the situation and was told - "Oh sure you'd have to go to Australia to see her"
So that was it, the plan B for just this type of situation - we'd have to move to Australia - I'm so glad he pointed that one out - as the mood I was in didn't really lend itself to such forward planning! Needless to say the next few days saw what can only be described as a full and frank exchange of views between myself and Enable Ireland.

I pointed out (rather helpfully I thought) that since they had no Speech Therapist they were not now spending their Speech Therapy budget so money could be re-directed to hire in private therapists. The logic of this seemed to be way beyond the bounds of what was bureaucratically possible - the repercussions were un-thinkable! No, no, we couldn't hear of anything as logical as that - this is the public service after all and there'll be no mention of that dirty private word here. Anyway it was completely out of their hands you see it was all the fault of ....... yes, our old foe the HSE. We would be referred to one of their own hospital speech therapists - a therapist was found so end of problem. You would think so wouldn't you? Except, the suggested therapist had already seen Rory in 2004 and deemed him outside her scope of practice - on foot of this we had been referred to Enable Ireland. Are you still with me here? Let me put it simply: in 2004 she deemed Rory to be the honors paper and that a multi disciplinary team approach was necessary - the type which is allegedly only available in Enable Ireland! Now Enable Ireland were sending us back to her in a great hand washing exercise, the like of which, would surely not be found anywhere else in the civilised world!

I do often wonder about that phrase 'public service" - the waiting lists to get in would be the envy of many an exclusive club - thus rendering them, well, not very public really and here we were, actually in the inner sanctum, and we still hadn't gotten any service. So it is a bit of an oxymoron then really don't you think? Maybe they should re name it the Elite Disservice or the Uncivil Disservice? - Suggestions on a post card please!

I returned to the warmth of Temple St and asked what to do. They were suitably outraged - a rather wise stance on their part considering my, by now, murderous demeanor. A letter from our consultant to the HSE was dispatched post haste, stating in no uncertain terms that without Speech Therapy, there was a real threat to a living transplanted kidney. A pretty urgent letter you would think. He even followed it up with a reminder two weeks later - more little urgent rubber stamps maybe? No, lets remember people this is the Public Service - where the cardinal rule appears to be don't deal with the public and whatever you do, don't give them any service! That all happened in January, I have yet to see a reply.

Lets just bear in mind folks that throughout this ridiculous exercise in hand wringing and inaction, there was a little boy who had just got a kidney from his dad and who still couldn't eat.

The saga continues......

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