Michæl McFarland Campbell

Always telling the story

God is good, patient, and merciful…

without comments

Reflection on the readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year A): Isaiah 5:1–7; Psalm 80:8–19; Philippians 4:6–9; Matthew 21:33–43

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grapes-vineyard-vine-purple-grapes-39511/

Today, God reminds us that all good things in life have come from Him. Many people get angry at God and ask why He allows bad things to happen. Fewer people are humble and honest enough to ask themselves a much more important question:

Why do good things happen, why is there any good in the world at all, where did it come from?

We ought to think more about the answer to those questions.

The readings today paint the picture of a vineyard or a garden. Gardens are environments carefully created by gardeners in order to enable plants to be healthy and reach maturity, bearing abundant fruit.

God sees our souls as gardens of virtue. Just as God supplied the vineyard with air, sunlight, water, soil, the wall to protect it, and the tower to guard it, so He supplies each one of us with life, talents, opportunities, family, sacraments, knowledge, conscience, and the guidance of the Church. There is no good thing we an think of that does not owe its origin and existence to God.

One of the best things God gives us is His mercy, His patience.

Today’s readings how how many chances God gives His tenants to do the right thing, to fulfil their duties, to do what they were put there to do. When they do not do what is right, God sends three different messengers, including His own son. In justice, however, He did not need to send any. He could have evicted the selfish stewards right away. But God is patient with our sin and selfishness. He keeps giving us more and more chances, many more than we deserve. He never gives up on us, even though we occasionally give up on ourselves.

The boundless mercy of God is the best evidence of His immense goodness.

The anthropomorphic mistake

Photo by Gabriel Peter: https://www.pexels.com/photo/timelapse-photography-off-water-fountain-719396/

One common characteristic of many natural religions that humans have developed throughout history is anthropomorphism. This is a fancy word for saying that without the help of God’s revelation, people tend to think that God (or the gods, if we’re talking about paganism or polytheism) is just like us, only bigger and stronger.

We are all familiar with stories from ancient Greece in which the false gods got into arguments, tried to trick each other, and committed adultery — it was as if they were just like humans, only immortal.

Christianity put an end to anthropomorphism — we now know that although humans are made in the image of God, God is not made in the image of man.

God is unlimited in his knowledge, goodness, wisdom, and power — He’s not just bigger and stronger than us; He is on a different level altogether.

And yet, our fallen human nature still has a tendency to think in terms of anthropomorphism. One such mistake we often make is thinking that God loses his patience with us, just as we lose patience with others (or ourselves).

We think that since we run out of mercy, giving mercy takes a huge effort for us; well then, it must be that way for God too. Not at all. God’s mercy is unlike a giant eye-dropper in heaven, reluctantly and jealously dispensing forgiveness and love in little bits, drip by drip. That is often how we do it. But God’s mercy is more like a waterfall, a rushing mountain spring, an ever-flowing fountain. The only thing that will make us die of thirst is our self-centred refusal to drink from this fountain — just like the stewards in today’s parable.

God’s mercy and goodness is always ready to come into our lives, always. We just have to open the door.

The path to surpassing peace

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/belief-bible-book-business-267559/

The more deeply we know this truth and are convinced of it, the more joyful we can be. Joy is the emotion that comes from having or possessing a good thing. Most of the joys of this world are fragile and passing, because the good things of this world are fragile and passing. But God’s goodness, His selfless interest in and unconditional love for us, is never-changing, stable, constant, and eternal. The more we are aware of it and lay claim to it, the more joy we will experience and the more constantly we will experience it, coming gradually to discover what St Paul describes in today’s second reading as

the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Philippians 4:7

How can we deepen our knowledge and conviction of God’s limitless goodness?

St Paul says we must become people of prayer: offering to God all our worries; thanking Him for all our gifts; and contemplating all the good and noble things that God has done and with which He has surrounded us.

The society around us, our own selfishness, and the devil try to clog up our minds with complaints and problems, so that we lose sight of the bigger picture.

Only by consciously lifting up our hearts and minds to God, every day, throughout the day, do we gradually come to root our lives in the deep, rich soil of God’s goodness.

How is our prayer life? Does it consist merely of saying prayers? Does it include heart-to-heart conversations with Christ? Does it include time to reflect on God and His plans through reading the Bible and other spiritual books?

Today, as we renew our faith in God’s boundless goodness and mercy, let us also renew our commitment to being Christians worthy of our name — Christians who love Christ enough to spend some time with Him in personal prayer, every single day.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

October 8th, 2023 at 11:24 am

Haemoglobin is finally above 10! Hurrah!

without comments

Wednesday saw the routine of ‘monthly bloods’ taken and sent off from the dialysis unit. In recent months, the most worrisome result has been the Hb or Haemoglobin level that has been recorded. Back in May and June, it hit a bottom point of 6.2. This week, however, it came back as over 10. This level means that I am back much more towards the normal level, and I am definitely feeling a lot better. 

I also received both an appointment letter and a reminder letter (printed the same day) from the Haematology clinic at the Midlands Regional Hospital at Tullamore for the last day of October. Whilst part of me wants to say, ‘Look, I’m well again — do I need to come?’ I will attend because it will be interesting to see what they have to say. For my part, I have a feeling that the Hb was low because of the failing fistula, and now that it has been settled down, it isn’t taking Hb away any more. We shall see. 

Originally published on HIVBlogger.com

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

October 7th, 2023 at 10:27 pm

Update on Accessibility issues at Iarnród Éireann lifts

without comments

In June 2022, I highlighted some accessibility issues at Iarnród Éireann lifts, particularly on the Port Laoise line from Dublin Heuston. I am very pleased to confirm that these difficulties have been resolved. It seems that Iarnród Éireann has used the same style of instructions as found at DART stations on this line, too.

Well done to them for doing so, it is just a pity it took as long as it did to be resolved.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 21st, 2023 at 4:16 pm

54% of people living with HIV avoid healthcare due to stigma: launch of HIV-related Stigma in Healthcare Settings report

without comments

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission‘s offices wer the venue for the launch of HIV Ireland‘s latest report: HIV-related Stigma in Healthcare Settings in Ireland: Findings from a Collaborative Joint Stakeholder Study by Dr Elena Vaughan of the University of Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre.

There were two sets of surveys: one for healthcare workers; the other for people living with HIV (PLHIV). There were logistical difficulties in getting the surveys out to the relevant audiences to be completed. However, Elena did manage to have participation from 298 healthcare workers and 89 PLHIV.

Key findings

Some of the key findings were quite shocking:

People living with HIV

44% of people living with HIV report being asked how they got HIV by a healthcare worker.

54% of people living with HIV report having avoided healthcare for worry about how they will be treated by healthcare workers.

24% of people living with HIV report having been told to come back later, made to wait or put last in a queue.

20% of people living with HIV report having been denied service in the past 12 months.

Vaughan, E. (2023). HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings in Ireland: findings from a collaborative joint stakeholder study. Galway: Health Promotion Research Centre, University of Galway and HIV Ireland. https://doi.org/10.13025/ccsj-8336, p. 7.

Healthcare workers

21% of healthcare workers report using special measures that they would not use with other patients.

80% of healthcare workers have not received training in stigma and discrimination.

40% of healthcare workers say they would worry at least a little about drawing blood from a person with HIV.

25% of healthcare workers say they have observed a colleague talking badly about a person living with HIV at least once in the last 12 months.

loc. cit.

Experiences of stigma in healthcare settings

The report details some experiences of stigma in healthcare settings that were experienced by those interviewed by the research team. I know that I recognised two situations that had happened to me.

The physiotherapist said, `I can’t have you in the gym in the hospital because then it will have to be cleaned… so it would be a whole afternoon of no one else being able to use it because you’ve been in.’

Ibid., p.31

and

speaking of nurses using excessive or unnecessary infection control measures…

They came in in what I keep referring to as full body armour – they were in full gowns and masks and hair-nets and everything. And I said, Why are you dressed like that? `Well, because you know your condition.’ … Oh so because I’m HIV positive, you thinkg you need to be in all of this? `Yes.’

Ibid., p. 32

Both of those situations happened in a hospital in the midlands of Ireland. I have complained about them in the past. As the report says, I was able to self-advocate. Yet, the second situation happened even in the last few weeks when I was again there for treatment.

Recommendations

The report makes several recommendations for the future. They are laid out in four different domains: training and education; policy/practice guideline development; and research. I recommend you read the report online and read the recommendations there.

Links

HIV Ireland

HIV-related Stigma in Healthcare Settings in Ireland: Findings from a Collaborative Joint Stakeholder Study

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 21st, 2023 at 4:03 am

Study: K310 module website opens

without comments

Earlier this week, the module website for K310 Public health: health promotion and health security from The Open University opened. Once the website opened to all students, we could view the learning goals and assignments we have to do over the course of the year. Although it is only one week into viewing the module website, I think it will be very useful.

It is also useful that The Open University now has an app (OU Study), meaning students can read information from their module website on their SmartPhone. This was very useful on dialysis on Friday, as I could carry my iPhone but not a laptop bag after the surgery on Monday.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 16th, 2023 at 3:28 am

Posted in University

It’s not the worst outcome…

without comments

Yesterday morning I was whizzed down the M4 from Tullamore to Tallaght for 0830 by two helpful ambulance crew from Medicall Ambulance Service. (Being Ireland, one of them I knew from my volunteering in St John Ambulance Ireland. It’s a small world!)

Despite arriving at 0830, it was nearer half past two before I was taken over to the IR department. Only on arrival there did I learn what IR meant—Interventional Radiology. 

Throughout the procedure I was awake though somewhat sedated. I found it interesting being able to see inside my arm as the consultant worked to clear the clot. Despite doing so, it was decided that the fistula was unusable for ongoing dialysis. Therefore they proceeded with replacing the temporary catheter in my chest with a permacath. 

I must thank the team who worked so hard to achieve the best possible outcome for me. In the midst of it all yesterday it was hard to see it as anything other than a terrible outcome. But, it really isn’t. The permacath means that I can continue to receive the lifesaving dialysis I need. 

After the procedure, I had to be observed on the ward for four hours by which time it was too late for me to transferred back to Tullamore. So, I understand that to be happening in time for dialysis at 1400. 

Thank you to everyone who has sent thoughts and prayers. It is very much appreciated. 

Despite being in Osborne Ward after which Liam the #dialysissupportbear is named, the bear is still in Tullamore. I’m sure he will get plenty of cuddles on my return. 

Sunday in hospital: feeling low but also feeling good

without comments

It’s been a relatively quiet day in the hospital today. With no visitors, it has meant that I have had to find other things to do. This morning I attended a church service online via Zoom. They were talking about Christian meditation. It was great to hear them mention the Jesus Prayer,

Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Now, I know a slightly different version:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

At the end of the service, in the general chitchat, I mentioned that it is possible to use this prayer when walking, think of particular people and their intentions, or pray for the neighbourhood where you find yourself. I first heard this idea from Fr Richard Peers, now Dean of Llandaff.

Today, while feeling pretty miserable for myself, I took myself off for a little walk (only within the confines of the hospital). But I found myself praying the Jesus Prayer as I walked and later as I sat in the Healing Garden. I think it helped me. I hope it helped others too.

The Healing Garden in Midlands Regional Hospital at Tullamore.

Perhaps you will try it yourself. Tell me if you do.

Originally posted at https://hivblogger.com/2023/09/10/sunday-in-hospital-feeling-low-but-also-feeling-good/

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 10th, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Another week of more challenges on dialysis

without comments

Just as I thought we were getting over the rollercoaster of the viral load being or not being undetectable and the change in my antiretrovirals to treat the HIV, there was another lurch in my medical treatment.

Last Wednesday, I attended my usual dialysis clinic as normal. Except that nothing was normal. I think we nearly had every nurse present around my bed as we tried to cannulate the fistula. I tried, I failed. The nurse assigned to me for the day tried and failed. The clinical nurse manager for the unit tried — and yes — he failed as well. Another nurse attempted the seemingly impossible and yep, he failed too. The blood was clotting very quickly in the fistula.

Having had about ten different needles in my arm that day, we decided collectively to leave it until my normal dialysis day on Friday and attempt again. The only difference being that I was asked to arrive in time for the morning shift at 8 am rather than my usual time of 1 pm.

And so it was on Friday morning, after a wonderful day out on Thursday with a friend visiting ancient monastic sites around Drogheda, I got up really early, caught the green bus from Monasterevin to Port Laoise, and walked up to the B Braun unit.

Houston we have a problem

I walked in, and my nurse wanted to scan my arm before we tried to needle it. When he did that, it was quite clear that we had a problem. There was very clear stenosis in the fistula. This meant that there would be a complete change of plans. I have to say a big thank you to the teams both in B Braun Midlands Renal Care Centre and the Midlands Regional Hospital at Tullamore as they worked together apparently seamlessly to coordinate my move to Tullamore for the somewhat inevitable procedure.

As soon as I knew I was going to Tullamore, I asked Andrew to come to Port Laoise so that we could arrive together at Tullamore. I had a feeling that I was going to need his support. I was right.

We arrived in Tullamore and were pretty quickly ushered into a treatment room that even I had not been in before. It was still in the dialysis unit but new to me. A nurse rescanned my arm and confirmed the stenosis. I’m not quite sure in what order everything happened, but I know I got food for lunch, Andrew went out for lunch in Tullamore, and a doctor put in a temporary catheter in my chest as the access to ensure that I got dialysis on Friday.

Back in December 2018, when my kidneys failed, I got a permacath put in, I have no recollection of how or where that was done. This time, I was definitely awake throughout the procedure. Liam, the dialysis support bear, was also allowed to be beside me. Feeling his left foot was one of the most comforting things I have experienced in a long time. I know that sounds daft, but that is how it is. Liam comes from Andrew, because Andrew can’t always be with me. But because Liam was, Andrew was there too. Well, in spirit anyway.

After the temporary catheter was put in, I then had four hours of dialysis as normal. It felt very strange to return to having the blood coming out from my right-hand side rather than my left.

Today’s activity

Today, Andrew and our friend Miriam came to visit me. This also meant that I definitely had all the new medication with me. This morning, before they came, I had another shorter dialysis session. Originally planned for two hours, so that I could leave and play for a wedding… (no, that madcap plan was vetoed by the bride)… we actually ended up with me doing two-and-a-half hours. For those who like numbers,

TeKt/VTBVTSVΔBV
0.9246.29.9-0.4

Final results of dialysis session on 2023-09-09.

Today was not the most successful dialysis session, but it was about an hour shorter than is normal. But if we estimate the TeKt/V it probably would have been 1.28 which is just over the target of 1.2.

Next steps…

Tomorrow will be a relatively quiet day, I hope. Andrew won’t be in – trains are too difficult to negotiate from Monasterevin, and I don’t really expect to see any other friends either. From midnight Sunday/Monday, I have to be fasting as I have to go to Tallaght University Hospital (back where my first dialysis was) by ambulance transfer so that the team there can have a go at repairing the borked fistula. There are two possible outcomes: firstly, they repair the fistula and it works, the temporary catheter in my chest can be removed; or secondly, they cannot repair the fistula and the temporary catheter in my chest is removed so that a new permacath is put in. Either way, my consultant here reckons that I will be going home out of hospital on Tuesday.

It has been a rough few weeks. I really wish that everything just went according to my idea of the plan. However, I suspect that God has other ideas, which is why everything has gone the way it has. And at some point, I should be getting new books for my next module with The Open University on Public Health.

Originally posted at https://hivblogger.com/2023/09/09/another-week-of-more-challenges-on-dialysis/

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 9th, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Health

Tagged with ,

Registering to vote is now much easier in Ireland

without comments

Historically, registering to vote in Ireland involved a trip to the local Garda station to get a paper form stamped. Fortunately, those days are gone, and it is much simpler now. You can register to vote, online, at any time.

Simply go to www.checktheregister.ie and complete your details to be added to the electoral register. You can check the registration and update your details if you are already registered. If you are a first-time registrant, then you complete that form instead.

The details you’ll need to provide are:

  • your PPS number
  • your date of birth
  • your Eircode

These details are needed for your local authority to confirm your details. And that is it! You’ll be ready to vote, should an election or a referendum be called!

Three reasons why your vote is important

  1. It gives you a say on important issues that affect you — from roads and recycling, to education and climate change, to housing and employment.
  2. It gives you the choice to vote for your local and national representatives, if you don’t vote, other people get to choose who represents you.
  3. Elections can be called at short notice — if you don’t register 15 days or more before an election or referendum, you may not be able to vote. It is as simple past that.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

December 15th, 2022 at 5:33 pm

Multipotentialite?

without comments

Are you a multipotentialite? It certainly seems to me that I am. What is a multipotentialite? Well, it is someone with many interests and creative pursuits, rather than focusing only on a particular subject or hobby. I learned this new word while completing the The Open University‘s 5-hour short course on the value and benefits of Multidisciplinary Learning. As a student on the Open Degree pathway, I found this really helpful as a way to describe the degree course that I am following.

Multidisciplinary students bring many transferable skills to the workplace because of their study, including critical thinking, self-management, adaptability, analysis and problem solving, application of information technology, flexibility, and synthesis of ideas.

Anyone interested in studying this course, can find out more at https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education-development/multidisciplinary-study-the-value-and-benefits/content-section-0?active-tab=description-tab

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

November 19th, 2022 at 8:16 pm