I'm one of those people you will see the odd time outside a nearby hospital with a cigarette in hand and a far away look on my face. Oh I know there is supposed to be a quasi-ban on smoking in such places but that is a step too far for me.
I heard an overpaid lackey from the HSE on radio one afternoon explaining that the sight of someone smoking at their locations of health and well-being was sending out the wrong message. He made smokers sound like a group of strippers outside a church. The "inappropriate," word naturally reared its ugly head.
I have mulled this over. By definition a hospital is full of mainly old and very sick and diseased people. Far from smiling healthy young faces grinning back from between fresh linen, groans of pain and discomfort echo through the wards. Death is a daily occurrence as you must expect and human bodies are cut open, limbs get chopped off and vomit and shit are everywhere. There is even a room where people are pumped full of radiation. Fear is in the air everywhere. The aspiration may be health and well-being but the reality is a house of horrors.
It is precisely why I am outside the place smoking. Hospital visits rattle me and I am trying to calm down with the help of tobacco. I have seen friends and loved ones in great distress in these places and will not only confess to a fag afterwards but often a stiff drink also. I have the greatest of respect for those who choose to work in such mayhem and suffering because I couldn't do it.
Over the years the Health & Safety Executive, (HSE), has become an ungovernable monster uncontrolled by any Minister of Health. No matter how much of our tax is thrown at it, it gets more dis-functional as each year passes. There are all sorts of infections now that are unique to our hospitals and you can become very ill by just visiting a patient there. The theory is that the damned doctors just won't wash their hands.
'Patient Focus' has publicly declared that that 8,000 people a year die in our hospitals due to medical mishaps, wrong medication, lack of care and other simple mistakes. They add that 160,000 people are injured also for the same reasons. A report of the HSE last week was even more damning. The report highlights some real beauties such as patients dying after being attacked, sexual assaults, deaths during surgery, and an abduction from hospitals. It gets better/worse! They cite surgery performed on the wrong person, patients with items left inside them after operations and procedures carried out on the wrong parts of the body.
Holy smoke! I hear you say. It is hard to escape the notion that a visit to hospital, either to receive treatment or comfort a friend, is highly dangerous. The WHO defines good health as a state of physical and mental well-being. Speaking for myself I am on a state of high alert even driving towards one of those places. That alert is one of mental turmoil combined with sadness, fear and dread. Simply put, a hospital is an absolutely horrible place for mental health.
But they are a frightening reality because of our human frailty and imperfections. We grow old, we get sick and we make mistakes. Bullies prey on the weak just as elsewhere and people take instant dislikes to each other in or out of the beds. All ages creeds and both sexes exist in a strange environment run along military lines. The food is foul, the beds uncomfortable and the care intermittent. Apart from the hypochondriacs nobody in their right mind wants to be in a hospital.
Having said that though, I give the frontline staff top marks for effort amid the chaos. It would be far too easy to point out how "inappropriate" the management of hospitals really are but critisising them would be pointless in the face of the whole sorry mess.
What pisses me off though is how quick they are to criticize me for having a consoling smoke outside after my visit. Worse again, having ripped me off on parking charges for the offense of trying to cheer up one of their inmates, they've gone ahead and banned me from the place.
So that is why I ignore them with such contempt while still visiting their houses of horrors.