Posted on 10th February 2018

Slane Castle


I thought I would never get the opportunity to write this article because I was going to die.  That was what I was told a few short weeks ago in St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.  I had been there since the 28th November.  They were ceasing treatment.  My wife started making arrangements for palliative care.  I wanted to go home.  Then thanks to a genius move by my brilliant Oncologist Dr. Cuffe there was a glimmer of hope.  There was a whisper at the top of my right lung.  To put this in context I had been admitted with an infection but as a patient who had previously had a tumour removed, it was feared that there might be cancer cells at work.

I knew then what was involved.  I had to cough up all the muck in my lung and reflate it.  It was going to be hard work and agony.  There was no way I could have done it without the support of close friends and family, who I knew were rooting for me all the way.  First of all I want to thank my wife who practically lived in my hospital room, minding me and encouraging me every single day, and my children who were there when they could be.  I saw my newest grand-daughter through the glass when I was in Intensive Care.  I thought for a while I might never see her again.  For the good friends who came to be by my side who knew I was on the knife edge, from all of you I drew strength.

It is inevitable when you face a herculean task that you draw on your inner strengths. During my school days I was an athlete.  My best distance was ten miles.  So I started applying the same resolve, hauling myself out of bed to walk a little more each day.  The big gaol was to get to Hollywood, a ward on the same floor as mine but some distance by corridor.  I felt delighted with myself when I managed it for the first time.  By the time I left the hospital I was going there and back 16 times a day.

Most important are the Staff in the hospital.  After two months and six days I got to meet a lot of them and the kindness, sympathy and courtesy I encountered was unparalleled.  My special thanks go to all the team on Private 3.  The special care I received I will never forget.  By God, do nurses work hard.  There are too many to name.  However, Helen in Catering who brought me jelly and ice-cream, has to get a mention.

On 29th January I returned to my home, a place to which  a few weeks before I would have been returning under very different circumstances.  It was late evening, there was a carpet of snowdrops on the drive, not a cloud in the sky as the evening light shone on the Boyne.  A beautiful shimmering moon arose.  It felt like magic.  It seems like a second chance.  I am alive, thanks to Dr. Cuffe and her team, and the nurses on Private 3.

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