Last week Screecher Creature No. 2 had his 6 week check-up for grommets. He calls them his bionic ears. Mister Husband and I call them Bloody Expensive. I couldn’t write a political piece to save my life; I can barely hold a political conversation such is my ignorance. Suffice to say they’re all a shower of bastards. Yes, the ones we voted into power in our country. It’s our own fault so we should just shut up and put up. I don’t know what else to do so I will just keep on bitchin’ about them. We, as a family of 6, can’t afford a lot of things anymore. I’ve gotten used to own brands in the shopping trolley, crossing items off the shopping list “until next week” because we can do without marmalade, and generally trying to be thrifty. There are one or two things that both Mister Husband and I hang on to with a death like grip, such as our weekly breakfast of a Saturday morning in J-1 Cafe. That cup of coffee and a scone after I do the school run aka my breakfast. I enjoy that too. This treat in particular comes to an end when it’s school holidays. But the one thing that scares me is, we don’t have health insurance any more. It was either that or the mortgage. So when December of last year rolled round, I knew time was closing in on us. We had already been told that Screecher Creature No. 2 had a bad build-up of fluid in both ears. His hearing was affected. He couldn’t hear me talking to him when it was just the two of us in the same room with no other background noise at all. He referred to his ears as his “good” and his “bad” ear when in actual fact, both of them were crap. When he needed his annual trip to the doctor just before Christmas with the usual ear and throat flare up, I got my referral letter. To go on a public waiting list would see us waiting for up to a year, or so I was told, so I made a few phone calls to see where we could get the best deal for a private procedure. And one place didn’t even bother to call me back. In these recessionary times, someone out there doesn’t need our money. Or else he needs a new secretary. One hospital charged €650 for a bed for the morning. The other wanted €379 but the surgeon was a lot dearer here. In the wind up we decided to go to Kilkenny where Screecher Creature No. 1 had his grommets inserted. In the days when we had health insurance. The procedure cost us €1443.00 for a mornings work. The last of our savings wiped out so our boy could hear properly. It goes without saying that I would find the money somewhere, anywhere should he need the operation again in the event that the blighters fall out. They have a tendency to do that. But thankfully they stayed put as we discovered last Thursday. There is the small matter of a secretion of some sort covering the grommets but at the risk of our very volatile child self-combusting altogether with a suction device being placed in his ears, when the option to leave well enough alone was given to me by the consultant, I took it. It’s not the best thing to happen with grommets but it doesn’t affect his hearing so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We have the 6 month check-up during summer holidays so I am hoping whatever bubble has glued itself to both drains, bursts in the meantime and doesn’t cause any more problems. I am not feeling sorry for myself in the least. As far as I’m concerned, we have it better than some. No-one in our house goes to bed hungry. Nor are we cold and without proper clothing. We are struggling as much as the next person is. Perhaps less so. Some weeks are slightly better than others. Mister Husband may not agree with me when I say that something always comes along at the eleventh hour to get us out of a hole. For a short while at least. When I saw our skinny little fella lying on that bed last week, looking at me out of big blue eyes that were plain old scared and nervous, I thanked my lucky stars it was only a grommet consultation we were in for. My heart goes out to all the parents whose children are terminally ill. Those parents who have to travel long distances to visit their children in hospitals and go home again, leaving their children behind. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. I hope I will always have “another” choice.