Here I am, having just got over Christmas and New Year and it’s only five weeks till Valentine’s Day! My thoughts are supposed to be turning to thoughts of love, but it’s taking a major effort just to cope with the aftermath of the celebrations. Lots of deep breathing needed and walks taken around the countryside to de-stress whilst husband hoovers up all the glitter I’ve spread around whilst trying to take all the decorations down. I think he’s more stressed than me after seeing me attempt to stand on a step ladder to get down the Christmas lights – I didn’t know he could move so quickly !!
Pushing Valentine’s Day to the back of my mind leaves my thoughts free to plan my six-monthly trip to see my Rheumatologist in Dublin. Quite a bit of planning has to go into this as we live about 300 miles away on the Beara Peninsula which makes it a full day’s outing. The train leaves Killarney – 35 miles away – at 07.40, so I have to get up at 05.30 to have a shower, get dressed and have breakfast and be ready to get into the car at 06.30. By this time Pat will have taken the two dogs in to the kennels the day before and I have to make sure and leave the 2 rescue cat’s food in the larder for my friend Stella who will pop in and feed them in the late afternoon. I will also have booked two seats on the normally busy train to Dublin courtesy of Irish Rail. We catch the train up and back because I get free train travel for me and my ‘carer’ , (i.e.. husband) and the trains are clean and comfy and I can wander around if needs be. They also have large, wheelchair friendly loos with doors that slide right back and reveal all, if you forget to lock them !! (Did this happen to me? – of course it did !). I’m usually not awake enough to make sandwiches and flasks for the trip, so we avail of the trolley service for the much needed cup of coffee! This particular train – and the one we take back – goes straight through from Killarney to Dublin and takes just about three hours. I always download a rented film or two to my IPad a few days before and can watch these en route as well as avail of the free WIFI on the train and before you know it we are pulling in to Heuston Station.
During my various operations I had to go to Dublin by myself occasionally as Pat was away in far off climes and the Irish Rail staff were absolutely brilliant, especially if I was in a wheelchair or in walking boots. They would assist me on to the train and send the ramps with me in case I had to change trains and they always informed the staff at Heuston that I was coming and they decamped me into a taxi to the hospital !


My Rheumatologist at the Blackrock Clinic is efficient, friendly and young enough to outlast me !! I have to provide her with my latest ‘bloods’ and a list of any changes in my symptoms since I last saw her six months ago which she questions me about. Her assessment of me is always thorough and unhurried and she always writes down (with a copy for me) of how I should proceed both with medication and personally as I definitely am one of those people who forgets everything given half the chance ! I come away feeling relaxed and updated on my RA and it’s worth every minute of the long journey up and back. With Pat to drive me home from Killarney we arrive slightly exhausted around 9pm having hopefully remembered to collect the doggies en route !