As promised, here is the rant post, Part 1 of which is merely a hate-filled snowball of ideas and maths, which spiraled out of control, Part 2 of which is an equally hateful, yet eloquently thought out perspective on current mental health cutbacks from my good friend and medical student at RCSI, Naoise Mulcrone.
If you’re not arsed reading embittered rants, I completely understand, however, I would highly recommend giving them a lash if you have an interest in the state of the healthcare system in this country, as they contain insight from the perspectives of both a patient and a future doctor.
1. The 2+2=4 Rant
By the time my second biopsy was performed, I was ready to face the news that I probably had cancer. Having made peace with the fact that I most likely had a very curable form of illness, I went about my week the same as before; having fun with my friends and family, drinking pints and playing pool. I was told that the results of my tests would be in within a week, a long time to wait, yet I had already accepted my probable fate and hence was able to manage myself in terms of stress etc.
This is still a ridiculous amount of time to be waiting on a diagnosis for something that may have a drastic impact upon your life, something which, luckily for me, was mitigated by the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to afford private health insurance.
Again, me giving out about the waiting time is not a reflection on St. Vincent’s Hospital, which, as I have mentioned in my last post, has taken fantastic care of me. It is merely indicative of the fact that our government needs to be spending more money investing in health and less on waving their dicks about, jockeying for positions in a government, which will likely fall apart before Christmas.
To put things into perspective, consider this:
From March 2011- July 2014 , €22.9 million was paid out to TDs in expenses alone with a further €6 million of expenses awarded to senators. This adds up to just under €30 million, yet TDs bitch and moan about spending €40 million on another election, ridiculous! This works out at an average of just over €34,000 per year for TDs and just over €29,000 per year for senators. Ask yourself honestly, who is in greater need of this money; TDs and Senators who earn a minimum of €87,258 and €65,000 respectively, or those who cannot work, work less or lose income due to cancer, facing an income drop averaging €1,400 a month, or €16,750 per year?
According to the Irish Cancer society, In Ireland, an average of 30,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year. Their survey also found that four out of five cancer patients (including myself) pay an additional €69 per month to cover the medication they need just to manage the side effects of their treatment (for example, fatigue and nausea).
Multiply this by 12 (so it’s a year’s worth of medication just for managing side-effects), then multiply that answer by 24,000 (4 out of 5 of the 30,000 newly diagnosed patients who have to pay this extra 69 euro per month) and you’re left with a figure of just over 16.5 million euro, roughly half of what our representatives were paid in expenses over three years. Yet they still bitch and moan shamelessly about wasting taxpayer money on another election, as if they have no personal interest at stake. It is obvious from this that these people are well capable of putting 2 and 2 together, as even I, the man, who spent all of ordinary level leaving cert maths down the back of the class trying to work out, mathematically, whether drinking listerine would get you pissed or kill you first, can. Yet they only choose to do so when it’s their heads on the chopping block.
I digress back to my initial point; it is not easy to pay for health insurance, especially as a single mother with two kids, yet my mam worked hard enough to provide me and my sister with this, something which I am eternally grateful for. BUT THIS SHOULDN’T BE THE FUCKING CASE!
I am absolutely disgusted by the state of the two-tier healthcare system in this country. My mother shouldn’t HAVE to work hard and scrape away just so her children can receive adequate healthcare. Patients who aren’t able to afford private healthcare shouldn’t HAVE to wait UP TO 25X LONGER for potentially life-saving tests. People shouldn’t HAVE to fear for their lives and wellbeing due to cutbacks in mental health.
And the sad thing is, they don’t HAVE to. If our elected officials gave a single fuck about the health and wellbeing of it’s citizens, we would HAVE universal healthcare by now. The stark reality of the matter, as the other week’s virtually empty Dail debate on mental health cutbacks shows, is that these people do not give a fuck about you or your loved ones. They are charlatans, who would rather spend thousands of hours and taxpayer’s money practically blowing themselves in front of parliament about why their stance on Irish Water is the most important, than merely listen to what the supposed representatives of the people have to say about a crisis which is gripping our country.
Suicide is at an all-time high and I am fucking sick to my stomach that our government is doing nothing to stop this. In the last year alone, 3 people I know have either killed themselves or tried to, yet the healthcare system is taking several steps backwards in this area.
2. The Mental Health rant (From guest contributor, Naoise Mulcrone)
I wanted to write a bit more about mental health cutbacks, but my good friend Naoise Mulcrone, a medical student at RCSI, summed up the collective outrage that our generation is feeling towards recent decisions better than I ever could in this beautifully put together, raw, uncut, uncircumcised rant.
“Yeah, so I’ve seen a lot of people posting about #iamareason. I think it’s great that so many people have had the courage to talk about something so personal. And it’s great that we’ve showed just how much we accept these people’s struggles, despite what they might have thought or been afraid of. These “social media trends” are fantastic for putting something in the spotlight. That is until Kim Kardashian breaks the internet with some more softcore pornography. Or buzzfeed publishes another list of 14 reasons why we should all follow the next, newest, freshest, most popular trend. I think it was when Ghandi got that millionth like or retweet or follower or whatever the fuck they have on these sites, that the British really started to listen to him. I heard that Kony fellow was so moved by all the mean things we said about him back in 2012 that he decided to let all the children go.
And yeah people may have taken some time out of their day to write these posts. Some have made pretty eloquent pieces about their personal experiences. I read some lovely posts about the homelessness crisis before Christmas, intertwined with posts of big roasts and families relaxing by fireplaces. But I reckon most of you aren’t mates on Facebook with your local TD, or followed on twitter. They don’t see this, or at the very least it’s pretty easy to ignore. And after it I reckon you probably went back to whatever it was you were doing, continuing about your day happy with the notion that you’re some do-gooder saint a few likes richer than you previously were. Nothing’s really changed though has it? 10 minutes and a couple of likes, maybe even a few shares if you’re lucky, doesn’t make you a protester. It doesn’t make you an activist. It doesn’t change anything (asides from maybe your number of followers). Facebook has become this generations Joe Duffy show; An intellectual graveyard where people come to complain for the sake of it. To make ourselves feel better. So that next time your friends are conversing about it you can tut tut at the ongoing crises, safe in the knowledge you did your part. You had your say. You really made a difference.
We love to be outraged over the shambles that is our current government, or lack thereof. But are we really doing anything about it? Numbers of followers don’t correlate to impact on the earth. Kim Kardashian has 44 million followers on twitter. Ban Ki Moon has 328,000. Now which one of these two people has done more for the world?
I’ve seen first-hand the inner workings of the Irish hospitals psychiatry services. I’ve seen a person be told they can’t get the help they need. And I don’t just mean being told that they have to go on some never-ending waiting list, I mean being told that the service they need simply doesn’t exist anymore, because someone left and they don’t have the funding to hire a replacement. I’ve been on a ward where a patient has hung themselves. Successfully. I’ve seen the impact that has had on every single member of staff in the place. Fuck it even hit me. This person didn’t have to die. None of us do.
It’s about time we put down the phones, switched off the computers and got off our seats and did something real. Something loud. Something you can’t just click onto the next page and pretend like it never happened. It was peaceful protest by masses of people that got India its freedom and it took time and dedication not just from a small group of idealists but from everyone. A million people showing up to Leinster house and telling the government that they care enough about how dire things have gotten in recent years to actually go out of their way to do something has much more meaning than a bunch of likes on a screen. I’m not just sick and tired of the way things are anymore. I’ve passed that. I’m fucking outraged at the state of us. And I want to do something. It’s time we stopped fucking around with our social media outrage and made ourselves heard. Before the next saga sweeps in and takes over the headlines. 250,000 people took to the streets for the 1916 centenary celebrations. Can we really care more about something that happened 100 years ago than the state of today?
Ironically they spent 22 million on the celebrations, considerably more than they’re taking out of the mental health budget. 100,000 people gathered at the biggest water charges protest to protest over €160. Surely this is more important than that. So why don’t we show these megalomaniacs who were supposed to be “running our country”, but instead are attempting to rob us of our futures, of our friends, of our family members just who we are, how many we are, and how tired we are of accepting their failures time and time again? If you’ve felt even the slightest indignation towards these cuts, take to the streets. It’s not enough to write, or share, or like a post. Let’s stop letting them ignore us. Let’s start making a difference. We are the majority and we are far more powerful than the cowards sitting in office, far louder than they can ever hope to ignore, we just need to realise it. I want them to hear me. I want them to hear you. They won’t listen to us apart but all together they won’t have any other choice.
If you’ve read down this far, fair play for taking an interest in what two young men have to say about the state of our healthcare system. It means a lot to me, as a cancer patient and a mental health sufferer that more and more people, especially young people, are speaking out about these issues
This post provided some much needed venting and I promise you that my next post will be far less ranty. This was sort of a once-off opportunity, given recent headlines.
I’d like to thank Naoise again for contributing an excellent piece of insight and if you’d like to throw in your own two cents on any of the issues discussed in this post, feel free to post in the comments section or get in touch with me through social media.