No reason to worry. Nothing serious happened today.

What happened was that we saw this German band was playing one Saturday night in Garding, and it was called “Landslide”. I’m sure they explained why they were called Landslide and everything around it. The band members were old, and, you know, old people talk a lot about the past and how it all happened and all – especially if you give them a microphone and a captive audience in a smoked-filled ‘Kneipe’.

And I see my reflection in the snow-covered hill...

And I see my reflection in the snow-covered hill…

Unfortunately (or luckily?) the place was so full of smoke (yes: smoke!) and people talking that we could neither see the band very well nor understand what they were saying in between songs. The magic happened when I tried to find them on youtube and realised that ‘Landslide’ is one of the ‘most nicest’ ever in the world love songs. Songs can’t get much better. There are many different version of it around, including some by the Dixie Chicks (the ones banned from the radio because the criticised US President Bush), but this one here is just unbelievable, sang by Stevie Nicks and accompanied by Lindsey Buckingham on the guitar – still in love, despite it all.

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

If that doesn’t make you cry… Take this love, but never take it down…

And it also describes so well what is going on in Pádraig’s life, sailing through the changing ocean tides in his Dreamboat, knowing that he can handle the seasons of his life. Because love is all around him.

I had the privilege to be on my own with Pádraig today and thought that I’d have loads of time to bore him with another set of my never ending stories, to have those conversations I always wanted to have but didn’t have the opportunity (or the time) to have. But – Pustekuchen!

You wouldn’t believe how busy I was. Between getting him ready for the wheelchair, getting out, back, ‘Mundpflege’ (usually Pat’s job, when I checked my email:), playing some music for him, getting Pádraig ready for the night – the afternoon and evening was gone in no time.

Can’t wait for tomorrow, for another day, sailing through the changing ocean tides. (And, maybe, just maybe, having an opportunity to tell Pádraig one of my stories.)

Today’s German Music Tip
Landslide, Radio. This is a demo recording of the German band ‘Landslide’, it’s not in German and it has been viewed just 394 times so far. So here is a chance to bring them across the magical ‘400’ views.
Another band that played in Lütt Matten over the past week-ends – and, again, they were so much better on the night than in this video.
What’s hot
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham
What’s cold
Bands talking rather than playing
The German word/phrase/verse of the day


UnknownHow would you remember the time that ‘digital’ was introduced into the world? It was the time when the world switched from a system of ‘a bit more’ or ‘a bit less’ to something much more exact. It’s easy to say yes and no, or on and off in the digital world, but it’s much harder to say “make it just a bit warmer”  or “a bit colder”. In the digital world, you have to make up your mind. Either the current is on, or the current is off, that’s how computers work at the end of the day. My lecturer in Trinity College (my secret is out now!) said that computer programming wasn’t really for women because they could never make up their mind. That was, you will have guessed, a few decades ago. If a lecturer said anything like this these days, he wouldn’t last long in his job, no doubt.

There is another side to the digital world, and it’s got to do with our dependence on machines.

It is really terrible. Truly. When I get into Pádraig’s room, one of the first things I do is to look at the “Vitalwerte”, the figures on the machine that monitors his vital signs: heart beat, oxygen level, … That’s what machines do to me. They are really in the way. I don’t want them, they are a distraction, and the cables that connect you to them are like tentacles that won’t let you move freely.

Today, when I came in to Pádraig’s room, the same thing happened: check the machine, check it again – well, it must be broken. After a week of values for his heartbeat that were quite a bit higher than what we had seen for months, today his heart was beating slower than mine. Only then did I look at Pádraig. And he looked so comfortable, so relaxed, that I thought, “maybe the machine is right?” I let him rest and waited for Pat.

He woke up slowly, and seemed to be so much better than he had been during the week. So we decided to get him back into the wheelchair and out onto the roof garden. And it worked. His arm is still swollen, yellow and black, but the pain seems to have gone, mostly. He even opened both of his eyes today, something that doesn’t happen that often. Eating doesn’t work that well yet, but I’m sure that will come back as well.

Today was a good day.

Today’s German Music Tip
Hörbie Schmidt Band, Aus dem hohen Norden. This is one of the bands that played in Lütt Matten over the past week-ends – only that the setting in that ‘Kneipe’ is so much more intimate and nicer than the stage from this clip from the Grenzen sind relative Festival in Kiel. A nice touch is the screen in the background showing the text, as well as the sign interpreter. “Lust auf Leben ist wunderbar.”
What’s hot
Heartbeat, in the correct range
What’s cold
Heartbeat, too high, too low
The German word/phrase/verse of the day
Dialogue in the Ruhr Valley:
(1) Wie is? – (2) Muss! – Und selbst? (1) Muss auch!


imagesWhen my mother heard that Pádraig was going to go to college she was all excited. Then she asked him what he was going to study.

“Irish and History”, he replied. My mother’s excitement went down a notch.

“What are you going to be when you finish?”, she asked.

“Don’t know”, Pádraig shrugged. “I’ll figure something out.”

My mother wanted her only grandson to become something. To study for a profession.  She didn’t quite understand what college and his studies meant to him. Why he was spending all this time on something that would not make him someone: a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, an architect, something. What was he going to do with his knowledge of the Irish language, literature, and culture? Or, probably worse: his knowledge of history?

I always thought that college should be the best years of your life. When and where else would you have the luxury of learning about stuff you always wanted to find out more about, without much worry about responsibilities or too many commitments? Throw in a few trips, new friends, festivals, and loads of previously unheard of opportunities – life doesn’t get much more exciting than this. (Even though, I know, sometimes it just feels miserable.)

From what I saw, Pádraig had the best years of his life in college. And there was more to come… The challenge he is facing now is bigger what even him could ever have imagined. (He wasn’t a man going for the small stuff. He was always thinking big.) The amazing thing is that when many doctors wouldn’t agree, he went for life. And, with his friends, that’s what he is re-discovering. Life. An amazing life full of opportunities.

His arm is still black and yellow, and we did not take him out of bed today; he didn’t eat much either. But his heartbeat came down quite a bit, closer to normal – the hurt seems to go away, slowly. No doubt, in another few days, his injury will have disappeared and turned into a long distant memory.

Please keep voting for Hospi-tales on – the blog post is still at an incredible, magic #3!

Donal Earls is going to run not just the Dublin Half Marathon next weekend, he is also going to run 42.194988km on the October Bank Holiday weekend: his first ever marathon. Please support his fundraising effort on iDonate.

Today’s German Music Tip
Konny, Karrieresong. A ‘makes-you-think’ song (click here for the lyrics) about people spending loads of time on their career but not on life. At the end, they find themselves in a nursing home realising how quickly life passed by:
Das Leben geht so schnell dahin, deine Warnungen verhalln’ im Wind
hört keiner zu ..und vorbei, die Jugend hat ja keine…Zeit
What’s hot
What’s cold
Career for career’s sake
The German word/phrase/verse of the day
Na, hast Du ‘n Vogel? (hey, are you mad?)


imagesPádraig has been very tired, very sleepy, exhausted these days. He hasn’t really eaten, he hasn’t been in his wheelchair any day of this week, and he hasn’t been very responsive at all. Last Monday, doctors double the dose of drug no.1 they’re giving him, which could be part of the reason he is so hard to get in touch with.

Another reason is that his heart rate has been quite a bit higher than it used to be for a long time. He is also receiving only very gentle physio therapy so that chances his injuries could cause him pain are kept to a minimum. Today we heart that Pádraig had been on a tilt table yesterday that allows therapists to move him up into almost a standing position. He managed a brilliant personal best (PB) of almost 30 minutes in close to 90 degrees. All of which is brilliant news!

One doctor from outside the clinic today told us that ‘shit happens’ and I would agree. Life is unpredictable, never the way you expect it to be, hard to take at times. The important thing is to focus on the positive. In Pádraig’s case, he has been making really good progress over the past months. There have been a considerable amount of setbacks, near death experience, incredible fear and desperation – but, all in all, the most incredible thing that happened has been his coming back, time and time again. The last few days have just bee an glitch. We’ll be back to normal, to the road of discovery in no time!


Someone from China asked me some days ago whether I was interested in writing an article for their publication, saying they would fully understand if I had no time time to do this as Christmas was approaching and they knew this was a busy time for family and friends. It was very nice of that person to be so concerned and she also demonstrated her knowledge of important European ‘holidays’. Although I thought: it’s still a bit early to be thinking about Christmas in September.

Pádraig was clearly getting better today. It was the last day of his “Onkel aus Amerika” visit and he really made a big effort for him. We think he is trying very hard to speak, it’s like whispering, as if he was talking but without having found his voice yet.

We just realised that he hasn’t been out of his bed or in the wheelchair since last Sunday. We’re afraid to cause him even more pain moving him out of the bed into the lifter, into the wheelchair, and then back into the lifter, into the bed. We’re also not doing his exercises and he cannot be turned onto his left. His left upper arm keeps changing colour, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much worse. His main consultant came in today and explained to us that with patients like Pádraig a spontaneous haematoma is, although it does not happen often, possible. The good news is that they are watching it now. It’ll all be downhill from here.

Today at Aldi

Today at Aldi

I went into an Aldi store this evening and guess what I found? The first Christstollen of the year, beside loads of other really typical Christmas food. So I’m wondering – was my Chinese colleague right after all? Is Christmas really around the corner? Should I get ready? Or is this just time gone mad? Or, maybe an Aldi executive becoming desperate trying to come up with the next feast day to sell sell sell? Like ‘Wintergrillen’ in January? In my own mind, there is time for everything (like in the brilliant song by the Birds). A time to cry, a time to say sorry, a time to forgive, and a time to celebrate Christmas – but definitely not in September. That would be too early for anybody’s taste – except, obviously, for that of the Aldi sales manager.

Oh – please keep voting for Hospi-tales on – we are at incredible magic #3!


imagesJust saw on the RTÉ news that Seán FitzPatrick will be getting legal aid.  Seán FitzPatrick was, just in case you have forgotten (or are to young to remember:), the chairperson of Anglo Irish Bank until 2008 when he had to resign because of scandals leading to a collapse of the bank’s share price and eventual nationalisation in late January of 2009, for which people in Ireland are still paying. The Irish Citizens Information website says: “The Legal Aid Board provides legal aid and advice in civil cases to people in Ireland who satisfy certain requirements (principally, their means must be below a certain limit and there must be merit in the case)”. – In other words: Seán has no money and his case has sufficient merit to justify the expenditure of our money to pay his solicitors. Mmmmmhhhh… what have I missed here?

Loads of examinations. Several doctors. And the verdict is: Pádraig has a haematoma (I’d call it a bruise) on his shoulder and upper arm. As he is getting blood thinners (that’s what everybody gets who spends many hours in bed and doesn’t move that much to avoid a thrombosis) that haematoma is a bit bigger than it would usually be, we were told. In 15 months, it’s the first time he’s had a haematoma. From today, he is getting more pain killers to deal with the discomfort (I’d call it pain), pain killers he did not get over the last two days because they could also have masked a fever caused by a possible infection, his doctor said, which has now been eliminated as a possible cause for the swollen shoulder. We don’t know yet what the cause of the haematoma is.

Pádraig has not got out of bed since Sunday. We did not get him into his wheelchair because we did not want to hurt his shoulder and arm even more. For his visiting friend from Ireland today, it was a great pity that we could not get out and about with him, at least up onto the roof garden. It’ll be months until she’ll be able to visit him again.

IMG_8917Today, just before checking out, I checked Aldi’s ‘reduced products’ stand and discovered a ‘Mangoteiler’. I can be an impulse buyer and have been known to buy stuff, especially in Aldi, not because I needed it, but because I thought: “Well, you never know. Although you mightn’t need this right now, one day when you will need it, you mightn’t find one.” Do you know this feeling? Are there ‘pockets’ in your house full of ‘stuff’ you bought, you keep, you don’t get rid of because, well: just in case? Yes?

I think we all have had moments when we did really stupid things. Things we regret now. When we hurt others or spend money on stuff we shouldn’t have spend it on. But there are limits. In my case it was the Mangoteiler. Had I bought this beautiful kitchen utensil today (although every household should have a Mangoteiler:), I know for certain that I would have been told to bring it back to the shop immediately for a full refund. And I know that – out of the context of the shop, in the cold light of the day – I would have realised that I had made a mistake. I would have said: “You are right and I’m sorry. I should not have bought this Mangoteiler. We do not need a Mangoteiler. It was a stupid idea to buy it and I’ll bring it back.” But, as Elton John sang back in 1976, “sorry seems to be the hardest word”, for many.

Oh – with 1,016 popular votes, Hospi-tales is currently at No. 3 in the Best Blog Awards Ireland 2014, just about! So please keep voting on  –  Thank you!


Something strange happened.

One of Pádraig’s friends told me he had the best two days of his life working up to 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, for more than 12 hours every day. For free! AND, he had to raise the funding for the job.

imagesSurely, work is not like that. Think: Monday morning. The alarm clock goes off. You beat it into the ground. Somehow you don’t manage. And it goes off again. (Whoever invented ‘snooze’ for alarm clocks should be sent somewhere very far away and never be allowed to return to civilisation again, in case he’d impose another of his ‘brilliant’ ideas on us.) You can’t win this fight against technology, so you give up, you give in, and you get up. You crawl out of bed. You wonder why weekends are so short and working weeks are soooo long. Why holidays never seem to last longer than the blink of an eye, but work never stops. You’re overqualified and underpaid. You invest your life into this job but most of the return goes to your employer. You have no control over what you’re doing, but made responsible for the outcome. – That’s work. Right?

The reason why this friend of Pádraig’s had the best two days of his life, working, for free, was because he did something that he really enjoyed doing; something that had meaning and made sense to him; that he had control over and that he was doing because he wanted to, not because he was told; something that involved 40 other brilliant people directly, and many many more indirectly; something that was so exciting that sleep seemed just like a completely overrated waste of time. He made loads of news friends in the process and even got to know a second cousin of his who he had never met before.

The result of his work, and that of his new and old friends, will soon hit the charts. We got a sneak preview of the CD yesterday – it’s fantastic. Really. Just unbelievably good. It’ll take just a little bit longer, a bit more time, but I tell you: it’ll be worth the wait! Dreamboat!

Pádraig’s heart rate was quite a bit higher than usual yesterday. Today, Pat noticed that his left shoulder was swollen. Something that would, in a ‘normal’ situation, not really be a cause of concern – and did not seem to cause any unease among the pflege, or care team – does make us really really nervous, especially when we see that Pádraig really seems to be in pain. We became quite concerned and upset. There were also some yellow patches on his arm near the swollen shoulder that looked very much like bruises to me. So they took blood samples and did another set of tests on those sample which, as far as we know, all turned out ok so far. We wanted to talk to a doctor but were told, they had all left (it was after 4pm). Eventually, it turned out that there were doctors, only that they weren’t too enthusiastic about getting involved in checking out Pádraig’s shoulder. One surgeon was going to double-check the x-rays and possibly take out some fluid from the shoulder to get that tested too. We waited for him but eventually had to leave.

We should have the results of the tests carried out tomorrow, the next working day. There is work, and there is work.

Music tip:
Klaus der Geiger: Nein, nein wir woll´n nicht eure Welt
Wir sind dem Leben auf der Spur”
Germany’s best known busker!


UnknownLast Saturday week, my old school had a school reunion. I was looking forward to seeing some of my former school mates. There is about half a dozen of us of finished ‘Gymnasium’, our secondary school, together and who are still in touch. Apart from just a couple of friends from college and very few I got to know through work, these are my best and oldest friends here in Germany. As it turned out, I did not make it to the school reunion. We had an important, unforeseen, appointment here in Hamburg on the same day.

Even though I did not go, I realised that we are getting close, very close, to becoming the ancient guys in this group of former students. In 2017, it’ll be 40 years that we left secondary school, as the last class with what was called a “Humanistische Bildung”, at least that was the aim. For the most part, we did ‘stuff’ because we enjoyed it and we did not do ‘stuff’ that was boring. We certainly did not learn for money (or because we wanted to get a certain job) but because we wanted to know how things worked.

The trouble of that education is that we still keep asking. And you know how irritating questions can be that do not take ‘no’ for an answer.

Pádraig today had a high pulse, and high blood pressure, but no high temperature. We hope that all will be good by tomorrow, that it was just a short, temporary hiccup.

The highlight not just of the day, but of the week was Maitíu visiting today – and sharing with Pádraig and with us the magic that he manages to get out of his uileann pipes! He brought the house down and it was absolutely fantastic. It was his one day off, coming from Sweden to Düsseldorf, where he’ll be playing for a few nights.

I’ve mentioned that I feel so lost at times. Where do I belong? Germany, Ireland?

Tonight was not one of these nights. Tonight I knew that I will get an Irish passport and that I will learn Irish. I love my German family and my German friends, as always. But my heart is in Ireland. So much for today. Good night and sleep tight!

No. 10


, ,

UnknownA number of nurses told us over the past weeks that in their many years of work, some of them have been doing this job for over 20 year, have never experienced the level of visitors and care from family and friends as they have seen it in Pádraig’s case. The incredible part of that is that they only know half of it. Even more incredible is that there is so much more on its way: some we know about, other things we don’t know about yet and would not even expect. There is a spirit of love all around Pádraig that has carried him across the abyss and that is keeping him going.

imagesJust realised that Pádraig is now residing in No. 10 (the room number) – the irony will not be lost on anyone who knows about Pádraig’s love for the Irish language and culture. Maybe there is some magic going on here, some kind of a power deal?

He was well today, and while there are no dramatic signs of the effect of the drugs (!), we believe that he seems to be a little bit more awake. His eye is open for longer, even when we go out onto the roof garden, and he seems to be slightly more alert than he was before. We heard the same from one of his nurses today, though I think it’s still early days.

Tonight, we received the following email from Eoin Gaffney of the Leinster Open Sea Committee – a really moving example of what I meant when I said that the nurses really have seen not even half of what is going on, how Pádraig has been moving people:

cropped-hs58Good Evening All at Caring for Padraig

We got the sea swim off yesterday and we had about 85 swimmers or so.

Because the Ladies’ harbour was on today the number of ladies was down however many people who did not swim have made a contribution

I do not know exactly at this stage how much we made but hopefully we will have a final tally later on in the week.

I would greatly appreciate if you could send me on a JPEG (picture of Padraig) that we could post on our facebook page.

Many people have heard Padraig’s story and were trying to place him.

I hope everything is going well for you and again if there is anything we can do we would be delighted to help.

Mary Drumm copied in on this email must be mentioned as she was very much a big supporter of this cause.

Kind Regards

Eoin Gaffney

On Behalf of the Open Sea Committee

Thank you Eoin, thank you Mary, thank you all of you who were on Killiney Beach yesterday! How much we would have like to be there with you!

PS: Please keep voting for Hospi-tales!



In Germany, the “Onkel aus Amerika” was always the big promise of new stuff. The Onkel was well travelled, had plenty of money, and, above all, was super cool. Today, Pádraig’s uncle from America arrived in Dublin. He’ll be with us on Monday.

We went out to the roof terrace, just in time for the rain. And just in time for a big party. A lady with iranian roots had her birthday, and her family, about a dozen really nice people had brought presents , coffee, tea, and home made cakes and biscuits. With a bit of combined iranian/german engineering ingenuity we managed to fix a huge sun umbrella that gave us all sufficient shelter from the rain to have a lovely time celebrating this lady’s birthday. It was so different from anything else we had seen before here: a big family getting together to celebrate with their really sick mother, cakes, candles, singing and all.

Yesterday, we had a meeting with a “Landesärztin”, a doctor of the Bundesland Hamburg, who explained to us the different options for further care for Pádraig, if and when he will be leaving the Schön-Klinik. There was nothing concrete, it was a first meeting we had with her after all, but we are beginning to learn what the German health system offers to people like Pádraig who are slowly recovering from a very severe brain injury and multiple operations. What was, perhaps, most surprising was how much the “Landesärztin” tried to convince us that we, too, had a life, and that we had to look after us, too, our life, our work, our well-being. Which lead to her strong suggestion to find a place for Pádraig where we would not be the main people responsible to look after him. Comparing the number of people who visit people in Germany in Ireland, this seems to be the manifestation of a big cultural difference between the two countries. Germans hand over the responsibility to the ‘professionals’, Irish people get involved and are very slow to hand over responsibility of care to others. Still not sure how to explain this, but this is another big cultural difference.

I missed it (no surprise there, unfortunately; wasn’t the first time) but when Pádraig’s uncle was on the phone to him today from Dublin, and when he told Pádraig that he had brought over ‘stuff’ for him –  there was the closest thing to a laugh and a big smile Pádraig has ever shown over the past year. Nothing like an uncle from America!

He would have smiled again, had we been able to show him tonight the brilliant pictures from today’s Swim for Pádraig, organised by Leinster Open Sea Swim. He’ll have to wait until tomorrow!

Here’s a short report from a good friend (who graciously ignored my distinguished record as a sea swimmer). Pádraig would have really really loved the day!

We had a great afternoon at the Swim for Padráig at Killiney today.  I came third (last).  Sean and Isaac swam really well.  Lynn provided the usual cake.  The only thing missing was you guys.  I am attaching some photos with this email.  Also going to send a second email with more photos from another devise.  Hopefully it will give you an idea of the lovely afternoon we had on the beach.


Thank you to Leinster Sea Swimming, especially our good friend Eoin Gaffney (who once took me under his wings for my second sea swim), and all who participated! – You made all the difference!!!


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