Maurice Marechal, who founded the French satirical weekly ‘Le Canard Enchainé’ in 1916, once said that “my first reaction, when I see something scandalous, is indignation. My second reaction is to laugh. It’s more difficult but more effective”, according to an article in yesterday’s Irish Times by Lara Marlowe – and an article by Eleanor Beardsley WGBH News of 29 December 2016!

I’ve said that to many people: Take what doctors and other health care professionals have told us and other families out of context. Get the stage in the laughter lounge. A room full of slightly (or even heavily) intoxicated people. A white, bright spot light onto the stage. And tell those stories. We’d make a fortune. Up to now, I just thought the whole issue is too serious to laugh about it.

I’m beginning to think: maybe that’s the best way to deal with it!



There’s a man trying to get therapy for his partner and he’s pulled out of a van by the police with his arms twisted behind his back who are removing his partner and him from the only rehabilitation hospital in the country.

There’s a family with an sABI survivor – struggling with the demands of daily life – supporting the setting up of an organisation to organise therapies and a life for survivors of sABI and their families and a doctor says that is a waste of money.

A mother collecting money for her son, a survivor of sABI, and a doctor telling her to save that money and to go and have a good time on the Canaries instead.

An acute hospital ward where you have a nurse telling the husband of a patient, “Look, I’m in a bad mood today. You ask my brother what it is like when I’m in a bad mood. Better stay clear of me”.

There is a brain injured person on an acute ward, with nurses present, who is getting out of bed, tries to stand, moves back and forth like a tree in heavy wind, and eventually goes to the ground – when, far too late, all hell breaks loose.

There is a doctor telling families that secondary injuries and illnesses such as dropped feet are not important – they can be fixed at a later stage, when they could easily be avoided and, in any case, can’t always be fixed and often require an operation.

There is a young man being brought back to Ireland with a sABI to die, never sees a neurologist, looses all his teeth (“he’ll never eat again anyways”), and then, after 20 years starts to get better, starts to talk, starts to eat.

There is a lady fighting for her son’s rights and is being told that they’ll wear her down and that she’ll come back begging for help.

And the list of laughter lounge material goes on and on and on…. and these are only some of the details I’m aware of. And I am not working in health care.

Anyone who would like to contribute more stories?

Honestly. If you didn’t laugh about this, what would you do? Get desperate? Start a revolution? Get onto the Dreamboat? Ignore it? Work the ‘system’? Write to your members of parliament?

I think we should publicly talk about all of these stories and attitudes. Not in a bitter way. Not in a hurt way. Not from the perspective of a victim. But in an engaging, interesting, matter-of-fact, and – if that helps – a ‘funny’ way to engage people.

Not –
Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

But –
Picture yourself in a bed in a nursing home
With white boring walls and windows blocked up
Nobody calls you, they don’t come to help you
Your left with nowhere to go

You might just be left with: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Pádraig never stop to amaze me. He knows exactly what is going on around him. He understands what people are saying. He hears us saying things. He follows the news. He watches TV. But we have not managed yet to get him sufficiently involved. Telling us what he thinks about stuff regularly, as a matter of course. Something to work on…