New Year, New Sense of Perspective...


Happy new year...
At least I hope it is for you!
I began the New Year with a stinking cold that has crept down into my chest and "maketh much mucus..." However, it is only a cold (not that disparaging ailment "man flu")... and my moans and groan were put into perspective by news on new year's day of a friend being in intensive care with swine flu... She seems to be slowly improving, but isn't entirely out of the woods yet...
Christmas brought another set of contrasts... We were due to have another friend and her mother from America with us for Christmas dinner, but a few days beforehand, that friend ended up in hospital with diverticulitis and a perforated intestine. She was in great pain... and what is worse, our Christmas day plans were thrown up in the air! But at least she was in a hospital being treated (without cost to herself)... Just after we got home from visiting her in hospital on Christmas Day I got a phone call from a colleague telling me that his mother had just died in Zambia, probably due to intestinal ulcers. My colleague had sent money for various scans, scopes and blood tests to be done, but there were no doctors on hand to do them... We may moan about the NHS and refer to "third world" conditions, but we really don't know what we are talking about...
There have also been references to the third world with regard to the recent poor performance of Northern Ireland Water in the wake of the big freeze-thaw here, resulting in water being cut off for tens of thousands of households and people queueing for water at bowsers distributed around Belfast. Local radio talkshows have been jammed with people on complaining. Again, however, we really don't know what we are talking about... What has inconvenienced us for a matter of days is a daily reality throughout a huge portion of the world... Indeed the provision of a water-bowser with slightly cloudy water in it would be an unimagined luxury for many...
Don't get me wrong... I think that the performance of Northern Ireland Water in this incident has been appalling, and that there should be repercussions for those in charge (including those with political responsibilities) but I think that, perhaps, our transitory experience should make us more careful of our use of water (though I doubt it) and more supportive of those agencies, such as Water Aid, trying to provide clean water for all of earth's inhabitants...
Equally, I am not blind to the deficiencies in the NHS (as part of my job I work in it so I see them only too clearly), but not only should we be working for a more efficient, fairer system here, but striving for better health care for all people, everywhere...
My thoughts and prayers this morning are with my friends, in hospital, recovering at home, and in mourning with their families thousands of miles away... but also with untold millions who suffer and die without anyone mentioning anything on a local radio talkshow.

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