Recently, my wife and I separately and accidentally “booked” ourselves into two separate “hospital hotels” at the same time.

Nothing to do with the fact that maybe, after 49 years together, we needed a break from each other. Her stay was planned and she was booked into what I’ll call a five-star facility – the Blackrock Clinic Hospital Hotel.

I, however, arrived without a booking at the Regional Hospital in Limerick. The food and service in both “hotels” was excellent.

Matt Ryan and his wife Pat are surrounded by family and friends as Matt is presented with Irish Grassland Association Lifetime Merit Award 2018 by IGA president Jans Jensma and IGA vice president Ciaran Lynch.

Keep on discussing

Approximately, five weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with a badly swollen knee and an awful pain. My GP helped with some therapy and I was able to do my virtual discussion group work through Zoom with great “mothering” by my wife.

I let it drift for a month, constantly icing and resting the leg until I started to shiver one Saturday night at 10pm with a temperature of 102°F. I rang Shannon Doc. An ambulance was sent around. Pride damaged. An ambulance in the drive way! What will the neighbours think? A row and someone injured! By 4pm on the Sunday I was having a knee wash out in theatre.

There was a lot of white blood cells there which is a good sign. They put a sample on an agar plate for accurate identification and sensitivity. The result was Staph aureus. I had spent 50 years trying to chase this “so and so” off farms who had animals suffering badly with mastitis. How ironic that this guy literally and metaphorically speaking came back to bite.

Donnacha & Matt Ryan, Nenagh, Co Tipperary. \ Donal O'Leary

I was worried. Luckily, my Staph was sensitive to the antibiotic they put me on and in six days we saw rapid progress.

After the operation I was lucky to be moved to the trauma ward for recuperation. The six residents in our open-plan hotel room inspired me. A guy who survived a motorbike crash four months ago; another who did serious damage after falling off a roof; another few with hip replacements that got infected; and a few more with a broken pelvis.

We had great fun and walking frame races. All the nurses, doctors and staff were ultra professional and all joined in with the fun.

How does that work?

I will be remaining on the antibiotic for six weeks at home. To facilitate this, I had to have a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line put in. This line will be used for taking bloods and giving the antibiotics or other necessary fluids. To get it I had to go off to theatre again.

My expert this time was an Indian surgeon and I was really curious how he was going to get this PICC line – a sort of wire cable – up through a vein from my elbow “uphill” to near my heart, a journey of more than 12 inches. I asked him was he going to use a magnet on the outside to pull it along. He thought this was hilarious.

We had a male nurse helping out. So, he was chatting and trying to find common ground to distract me from the job on hand. He found it: farming! He was also a farmer and was after acquiring 30 calves a few days previous. His problem was he had no Green Cert. He gets all excited: “You are the very man who can help me.” Such divergence of topics and conversation in a hospital theatre. Oh, and the PICC line is pushed in.


I met with much generosity. Let me develop this. I continued to run my virtual discussion groups online and I must have mentioned my dilemma of not being able to cut my lawn and put down a rockery.

After one session with the Moyne Group, one of the lads rang me up with a suggestion for the farmer we discussed the day before and he asked how I was going? Not a lot better! He rang 30 minutes later again.

“Matt, five of us are coming over on Friday night to do that bit of gardening work for you and we are not taking no for an answer.”

And so, it transpired. They did a great job. They were great fun. I was miserable, with a high temperature and a sore knee, trying to advise them what I wanted done.

My wife and I feel humbled towards all the generous people we met along the way in this little “blip” in our lives. The attention and care we encountered from all the health care professionals working in the “hospital hotels” during our stays.

With none of our children in Ireland, Isabel, who works with PWC in London got permission from her company to come “home”, to be a carer to two young fogeys while at the same time doing her normal days’ work online. Invaluable!

Let us all be a little more gracious to each other, institutions, governments and other places too.

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