Friday, July 10, 2009

Well, I am back in Dublin! I had such a wonderful time with my Dad, and already miss him terribly. I was blessed with a kind, generous, and thoughtful father who also happens to be a really good companion. But now my life is no longer "on hold" and here I am, ready to carry on! And I will try not to think of the 90+ degree (about 35+ degrees celsius) weather I left behind as I put on my scarf, sweater, and jacket to go out here.

Since I've been back I went to my first Irish hospital (as a visitor, not a patient!). Mark's uncle was "car doored" a couple of weeks ago while he was riding his bike, sustaining six fractured ribs and torn ligaments in his leg, which have caused other complications. He is 76 years old, so we've all been pretty worried about him! But luckily he has been making some strides in recovery. The first thing I noticed upon entering the Hospital was all the anti-bacterial spray machines they have *everywhere*. And there are all these signs that say how important it is to wash your hands. I have never seen that in a hospital or doctor's office before, and I have volunteered and worked at my fair share of them in the US. Inside we found Mark's uncle in a room with 5 other beds (all men). This also was uncustomary to me, as in the US there is usually only 2 beds per room. However, aside from that, the place itself seemed ok and like any other hospital you might go to in the States.

But here's what alarmed me. Our unfortunate patient has not only blood clots in his leg and his lungs, but also ulcers in his stomach. So while they need to treat the clots with blood thinners, they can't until the ulcers are sorted out, which makes sense. Now, for those who don't know, ulcers used to be thought to be caused by stress. But, as many *do* know, "It wasn't too long ago that lifestyle factors, such as a love of spicy foods or a stressful job, were thought to be at the root of most peptic ulcers. Doctors now know that a bacterial infection or some medications — not stress or diet — cause most peptic ulcers." ( Any doctor should know this. Yet, when Mark's uncle asked the doctor point blank, "What might have caused my stomach ulcers?" The doctor replied, "Stress" and didn't even mention anything about bacteria at all. I thought Mark and I were going to get into it with him right there, it was so unbelievable to us! However, instead of arguing, we simply made sure that he was going to get a test for H.Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers), which the physician's assistant assured us he would. But even if the doctor does know that stress doesn't cause ulcers, why would he misinform the patient like that? Something so simple -- it really made us wary of the care he's getting there.

So the jury is out on whether the horror stories I've heard about Irish hospitals is true!


  1. Looking on the bright side—I hope to be biking still when I'm 76 years old!

  2. this is why when i got sick in dublin i was so homesick because the doctors there really suck. and for some reason couldn't tell i had a chest infection and didnt want to give me anti-biotics.

  3. At Dartmouth-Hitchcock in NH there're anti-bacterial stations everywhere as well. They even have them in supermarkets now too. It's part of that whole sine flue paranoia.
    And although stress can certainly contribute to ulcer development (or any disease for that matter) because it can weaken the immune system, any doctor should know that bacteria is the number one culprit. But don't you worry the US is also full of doctors giving crap answers; I just went through a year of that with old dad.

  4. Having had an ulcer for 20 years, active and inactive...which I have been able to keep under control through diet, exercise and meditation. I understand your concern, but I have been tested for the bacteria on many occasions, every time coming out negative. I also have Lupus which is an auto immune disorder. So perhaps if your uncle's ulcer is not bacteria driven, they may very well check for an immune disorder. Good Luck!

  5. Thank you! He seems to be improving, so that's good!