ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

Op­er­a­tion trans­for­ma­tion com­plete

I’ve just had that breast op­er­a­tion I wrote about a few weeks ago: the lift­ing and match­ing of my re­main­ing breast to the re­con­struc­tion. Al­though it’s cur­rently bruised, ban­daged and trussed in a sur­gi­cal bra, it’s clear that over­all I’ll be left with a mar­vel­lous re­jig­ging. Pert as a teen’s (al­most), 100 per cent nat­u­ral-look­ing (nearly), over­all aes­thet­i­cally bet­ter than the pre-can­cer orig­i­nals (clothed). Granted, they’ll lack sen­sa­tion, be scarred and will never fea­ture in a ‘me, to­p­less on a beach’ sce­nario (sorry for your loss, Sandy­mount). But there is some­thing hugely up­lift­ing about it: namely, the up­lift.

Oh, Anne, can you be so trite as to care whether your pre­vi­ous chest was a bit droopy, when that’s nat­u­ral? Are you so in­flu­enced by the im­ages of ‘per­fect’ fe­males that we’re del­uged with ev­ery day? Do you care about the mi­nor de­tail of ‘look­ing bet­ter’ when there are so many more press­ing is­sues in the world? Yes, yes and yes! I love my younger-look­ing lady lumps. And though, of course, I’d never ask the plas­tic sur­geon if it would be pos­si­ble to have a go at giv­ing me a 21-year old bot­tom, the thighs of Naomi Camp­bell and Anna Kournikova’s abs while he’s at it, I can’t help but won­der… It’s amaz­ing what can be done with a cos­metic scalpel; all it costs is money and a few weeks in ban­dages. Not that you’d be ever tempted, like. Would you?

Speak­ing of money, as I also men­tioned pre­vi­ously, I went pri­vate for this op­er­a­tion. I got a call from the clinic the day be­fore. ‘You’re com­ing in to us tomorrow?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘You’re aware your med­i­cal insurance doesn’t cover the whole cost?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘There’s an ex­cess to be paid.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘It’s €840.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘It’s payable tomorrow when you check in.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘I’ll be wav­ing my Laser card as soon as I set foot in the gaff.’ And that was the end of the call. No blath­ery niceties of the ‘yes, I am very ner­vous about the op­er­a­tion but I’m sure I’ll be in safe hands in your mon­ey­farm, sorry, car­ing-pro­fes­sional clinic’ ilk. I found the blunt­ness of the call rather amus­ing. ‘Have yiz got the cash? Just check­ing.’

Gosh, can’t we Ir­ish be very di­rect when it comes to hard cash? Un­less of course it’s a case of com­ing clean about your re­tire­ment re­mu­ner­a­tion from your char­ity CEO po­si­tion — but sorry, aren’t you sick of hear­ing about Paul Kiely and his re­tir­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands? Why am I shoe­horn­ing him in here? Sure, that wasn’t even about hard cash! It was soft dosh, handed over by

Out­side my spa­cious pri­vate room on the hushed ward, a foun­tain tin­kled as I awaited my longed-for op­er­a­tion

mushy-hearted cit­i­zens con­cerned that fel­low cit­i­zens in need of spe­cial­ist med­i­cal care would have ac­cess to it. The ee­jits! Ha ha! Kiely and co­horts might as well have laughed.

It was all over the news as I was go­ing into the posh hos­pi­tal. It’s sick­en­ing, I was think­ing, that es­sen­tial med­i­cal ser­vices must be pro­vided for un­der the aus­pices of a ‘char­i­ta­ble’ foun­da­tion in the first place. And more sick­en­ing that there’s ev­i­dently a whole class of ‘char­i­ta­ble’ ex­ec­u­tives who earn hand­some liv­ings from their roles, and see no anom­aly in that (pri­vate health insurance in­cluded, nat­u­rally). And over­all most sick­en­ing that for a small, newish repub­lic we’ve en­gen­dered quite stun­ning lev­els of re­mu­ner­a­tion and, ergo, class in­equal­ity (why are ex­ec­u­tive roles deemed ex­po­nen­tially more valu­able than front­line, ac­tual, care providers? Why?) Sick­en­ing sick­en­ing, sick­en­ing, I was fum­ing to my­self, hav­ing been im­mersed in the news be­fore ar­rang­ing to get a lift to the fancy pay-at-the-door clinic. ( I’d have taken pub­lic trans­port but, nat­u­rally enough, there’s no nearby bus stop. Not pre­sumed nec­es­sary for the tier of so­ci­ety be­ing ser­viced?) And isn’t this just a mon­u­ment to the ide­o­log­i­cal void of this na­tion state, I thought to my­self, as I crossed the gleam­ing foyer to the re­cep­tion­ist/ cashier, then climbed the curv­ing mar­ble stair­case to the spa­cious pri­vate room that awaited me on the hushed, un-busy ward, with only the tin­kle of the foun­tain out­side to en­hance the peace as I awaited my longed-for op­er­a­tion.

What do I re­ally think about this kind of set-up? I was still this de­bat­ing to my­self, the next day, hav­ing left surgery. Then I had lunch. Oh my God, it was as bad as any hos­pi­tal food I’d ever had, even more so. Hurray! Some glim­mer of equal­ity, my in­ner com­mu­nist sighed. It was with great relief I was dis­charged from the place the fol­low­ing day. The iso­la­tion of my paid-for pri­vacy was too much. I like to see, hear, meet other peo­ple, pa­tients, medics: to be part of a com­mu­nity of care, with an op­por­tu­nity to share, to help with a kind word or picked-up pil­low, to con­tex­tu­alise my own ex­pe­ri­ence in the hu­man­ity of oth­ers. I met not a sin­gle other pa­tient, had no chat other than what was im­me­di­ately per­ti­nent to my breast op. Is this the prize of hard cash, I won­dered. That one can af­ford a sense of el­e­va­tion above the ev­ery­man re­al­ity of or­di­nary so­ci­ety? The is­sues of oth­ers are kept out of sight, out of mind. I just pre­fer the pub­lic hos­pi­tal, I guess... not that you’d be go­ing to one of them if you fan­cied a 21year-old bot­tom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.