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It was during that period when everyone ran around spending money they didn’t have, to buy shit they didn’t need, in order to impress people they didn’t like, that suicide rates went through the roof, proof that money does not equal happiness, perhaps? And it was during this period that the health system fell apart, the horror stories emerged like some celebrity from Kim Kardashian’s pussy, all limp, lifeless and covered in spunk and pussy juices, we heard of how patients with cancer were told they were fine and patients with no cancer were told they had six months to live, some were sent for treatment for a disease they didn’t have.
This wasn’t just a shortage of beds, waiting lists as long as tomorrow, this was human stupidity, but no one gets punished, not in Ireland, where every day during the Celtic Tiger, during the Boom, just before the bang, was like a really good night out, you know the kind of night where you wake up with vomit on your shoe’s, blood on your designer shirt (fuck it, you can always buy another one, no point in washing it, the smell never comes out and besides you got a piece of plastic in your breast pocket with your name on it, and a line of credit so long it would have given the most devout cokehead a heart attack) and the handle of a George Foreman grill in your mouth.
This year I was in Limerick Regional hospital with a syringe stuck in my arm, there was no room available and I wasn’t dying, so they just pushed the bed I was on into the corridor and left me there, right next to a tall , middle aged man with a hacking cough and a mask to help him breathe.
I was there a few hours before they released me. While I was there watching people pass up and down the corridor, doctors, nurses, people being rushed from the A&E, car crash victims, old people, young people, all in trouble to varying degrees. I turned to the guy next to me.
‘Been here long?’ I asked.
‘Here, in the corridor?’
‘How do you sleep?’
‘It gets quite around five.’
I looked around the hospital at all the other people who I had stupidly believed were only there on a temporary basis but were in fact there for days and weeks.
‘I wouldn’t be able to sleep here,’ I said.
‘Barely sleep myself…but what can you do?’
I nodded my head. One of the nurses called me in to the treatment room. I got off the bed I was on and walked in. When I came out, I was sick as shit. I could barely walk, a doctor grabbed me before I fell and helped me towards my bed. But the bed was gone.
The doctor looked around the corridor put me on a chair and left me there. The man chuckled.
‘What happened to my bed?’ I asked.
‘They took it.’
‘Another doctor,’ the man replied. ‘You can’t just leave your bed like that….see them up there?’
I looked up the hospital corridor, I could see a doctor poke his head through the double doors and carefully examine the corridor before vanishing again.
‘If the bed is empty they will whisk it away,’ the man said. ‘Someone somewhere always needs a bed.’
‘You must be fucking joking.’
‘Gotta time your trips to the toilet,’ the man said. ‘Wait for it to become quiet…then take everything with you, your phone, wallet, newspaper, iPod, the whole lot. Otherwise they will be whisked away too. Sometimes you get them back, someone will hand them in at reception…but the doctors got better things to be worrin’ bout besides your iPhone. Only in Ireland.’
I looked at the man. I looked at the woman across from me. How long had she been there? Hours, days, weeks? What about the old man who looked dog piss yellow? I lay back on the chair. My bed was never found. Someone else got it. The nurses brought me back in to the treatment room. Turns out they had done the procedure wrong, and it had to be done again. I stared at the syringe the doctor was preparing and he looked as confused as I looked sick.
Only in Ireland.
Leonard Cohen got it right, the war is over, the good guys lost, it’s almost like nature, life, the universe and everything loathes a hero, detests hope. As if the good guys were violating some secret, unknown, unwritten law of life whereby the good guys always lose, no matter how hard they try, maybe the good guys need a change of tactic, because how can they win when according to Darwin’s theory it truly is the survival of the fittest……and the fittest keeps putting themselves in situations where they are most likely to be fucked?