We are stuck in testing times... but healthcare heroes still bring good humour

A healthcare worker made a trip to the Covid-19 testing centre a positive experience for Kathriona Devereux and her family
We are stuck in testing times... but healthcare heroes still bring good humour

Kathriona Devereux says she is in awe of healthcare workers who maintain a good demeanour as they work out of a tent, in freezing temperatures, masked and gowned up, as they work their way testing hundreds of people.

IT is a special breed of person who can remain upbeat in a tent in Glanmire in almost subzero temperatures while wearing a plastic apron, face mask and gloves and manage to keep up a steady stream of compliments and positive chatter to distract a reluctant four year old from having a cotton wool tipped wand stuck up her nose, again.

“That’s a lovely jumper - is that a dinosaur - I normally drive the ambulance, but today I’m just going to give your nose a little tickel with this - thanks so much for coming to see us today.”

His name was Cian and he made PCR test no. 527 ( slight exaggeration) a positive experience for our daughter and for the procession of other children and their withered parents who had scored a PCR test in the HSE Covid test appointment lottery. To my mind Cian is a complete hero. I half expected him to appear on The Late Late Toy Show in an homage to the quiet heroes who have made the world a better place for kids in recent times.

He is just one of many healthcare workers who bring their good nature to work every day despite the endlessly testing times we’re living in. 

I’m in awe of these positron frontline workers’ ability to maintain a good demeanour and turn on the plámas and child banter when needed. They convey friendliness, assuredness and compassion with just their eyes peeping over a mask, their tone of voice and a few kind words. Conjuring up humour out of the bleakness of a testing centre is a particularly magical skill.

One PCR test trip had my son honking laughing when the swabber pretended I had driven over his foot and hopped around clutching his foot, just for laughs. It’s much easier to cope with an eye watering nose swab when your eyes are welling up from uncontrollable laughter. 

I don’t know if it’s a regular gag they pull on parents but it worked a treat on my six year old.

St. Finbarr's players and supporters celebrate the win over Clonakilty in the Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St. Finbarr's players and supporters celebrate the win over Clonakilty in the Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A more traditional set of heroes were on display at the county football final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. Both teams fielded players with great speed and skill and a last minute nerve wrecking point gave victory to The Barr’s. The players are the obvious heroes of the hour but their achievements are built on the unsung heroism of countless hours of volunteering that is put in by GAA members, not just at the Barr’s club but throughout the country.

Victory is sweet for everyone involved in a club, it inspires the next generation of players slogging away at their under-10 training session, it fuels the trainers who sacrifice their spare time to coach and encourage these young players, it spurs the treasurers and the PROs and others who run these organisations. 

There is no recompense, only the priceless prize of camaraderie and community.

The Barr’s have been winning matches since before the founding of the GAA in 1884 and my son has been happily indoctrinated into the club in the last twelve months. Regular football and hurling training as well as a Cúl camp that culminated in a water balloon fight and a Mr. Whippy ice-cream man has turned him into a committed Barr’s man.

After the match a Barr’s man in his seventies congratulated my beaming son. He told the man it was his first county final and the man told him how incredibly lucky he was that his team won! It doesn’t always pan out like that. Coincidentally the man was a similar age to my son when he attended his first county final in 1956, and the Barr’s won that outing too! So here were two people, generations apart, united by a shared experience, thanks to the work and dedication of an army of volunteer heroes. It gladdened my heart.

“A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” I might be stretching the definition but I sometimes call my husband my hero when he cleans out the brown bin or brings me an unexpected cup of tea. 

Our heroes should not be people who pursue fame or fortune but people who shoulder the difficult task or immense responsibility. 

With anecdotal stories of the public getting cranky and abusive at staff at vaccination centres and testing centres due to long waits, let’s be kind and appreciative of the real heroes who, despite the difficult circumstances, are turning up and performing every single day.

Festive fripperies

The Christmas season of consumerism is upon us. Once the Black Friday offers start flooding your email box (unsubscribe!) you know the big festive push to make us buy things in pursuit of happiness has started. Resist!

Our houses are rammed with stuff. Most of us don’t need any more. Even Ryan Tubridy called out fast fashion on The Late Late Toy Show by highlighting his recycled Christmas jumper from old Toy Show jumpers of yore.

Try to shop local this Christmas, says Kathriona.
Try to shop local this Christmas, says Kathriona.

However, if you do need to buy some presents, and in fairness children are unlikely to accept the argument of environmental destruction as to why no one gave them a present this year, try and buy local. Resist the lure of Amazon’s convenience.

A funny roadside sign in Kerry featuring a picture of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the slogan “Shop Local This Year - this fella has enough” went viral recently and in true Kerry fashion succinctly sums up the problem of transnational mega corporations sucking the life out of the local economy. If you have to buy something, buy Irish.

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