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Jim Blog

The Festival

                                                          “May you be never

                                                          be too grown up to

                                           search the skies on Christmas Eve”. Unknown

Christmas comes but once a year…which is just as well because I’m broke. I enjoy Christmas, very much so, but it’s the lead up to Christmas that I find frustrating and a bit annoying. Everyone seems to be in a hurry. Everyone wants that thing and they want it now. Spending money they don’t really have on stuff they don’t really need. This year, most unusually for me, I got most of my shopping in November. All very organised. All ready for the annual visit from the big guy in bright red.

There is a smell of over-ripe bananas. It’s the blanket of leaves on the ground that have fallen from the trees. A young child kicks up foot-fulls of leaves as he walks with his Mother. He seems to be enjoying himself. I’m on the way to get a bus to the Mater for what I hope will be the last appointment of the year. It’s nothing major, just a blood test for a consultation in the new year.

In many ways, I’m very lucky. I’ve never had to spend Christmas in hospital and, to be honest, I can’t even imagine what it would be like. Is it like any other day in hospital? Do you get the turkey and all the trimmings? Will Santa (Santy in Dublin, of course!) find me? How would I feel about being in hospital at Christmas? Upset. Lonely. Not enjoying the big day. This would be the 5 year-old me and the 45 year-old me. Naturally, I would hope I would deal with it better as an adult, but not much more. Christmas is a time of family. If you are in hospital over the festive period, rest assured that everyone at home will be thinking of you as they see the empty chair at the table and will be looking forward to seeing you in that chair again, opening your gifts. You may get a visit from a celebrity or a sports star or get to I’m talking go home for a few hours to experience at least some of the magic.

Whereas you are in hospital through necessity, others have volunteered to work at Christmas. Some of them indeed must work. In particular, I’m talking about first responders; Gardai, fire brigade, coast guard, mountain rescue, ambulance crews and paramedics. From our point of view, it is the staff in hospitals. The cleaners, porters, security, kitchen staff and of course the frontline staff. The technicians, nurses, doctors and everyone in the emergency department. I’m thinking of the foreign staff who may not be going home to family after a long and arduous shift. We owe all of these people a huge debt of gratitude, especially at this time of year. They are putting our welfare ahead of their own enjoyment of Christmas. They are the best of us. They are the vanguard. So, a huge thank you them all.

Well, I have to brine my turkey and decorate my cake. If you celebrate the festival, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy new year. And don’t forget….

Be Kind to Yourself.

The articles contained in Jim Blog are written by Jim O’Brien, a 45 year-old adult with CHD. The opinions and views he provides reflect a real life account of his experiences and honest commentary on his life-long journey with CHD. Jim is a valued member of HCI and writes voluntarily for us. His views do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and values of HCI but we are delighted that he is contributing to a greater knowledge and understanding of what it is to live with congenital heart disease.

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