Tag Archives: The Birth of Tinman

Heartfelt

The ball rolled slowly over the goal-line, and a two-point deficit became a one-point lead.

Eighty thousand voices rose, some in despair, some in joy. Seconds later the referee blew the full-time whistle. Pigs had not flown, Hell had probably not frozen over, but the county of Wicklow, for the first time ever, had won the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship.

Sean’s heart leapt in delight, though he wasn’t sure it was meant to do that. He felt a bit bitter, though, as he watched the TV. He should have Been There, he’d had his ticket for weeks, but then this had come up and so it was his neighbour (who had whooped and embarrassingly kissed him on the forehead when he gave him the ticket) who was witnessing history.

Sean went to roll up the left sleeve of his pyjamas, his hand slipped off and he punched himself in the chest, right where his new pacemaker was. The astonishingly sharp pain assured him that he wasn’t meant to do that.

It had all started a few weeks ago, when he’d suddenly begun to black out for no apparent reason and in every possible embarrassing situation. He had slid off a bar-stool in his local. He had keeled over in Tesco, his runaway trolley noisily toppling a a Ferraro Rocher-like arrangement of bean tins. His head had bounced via the chest into the lap of a girl beside him on the bus.

Tests had revealed that his heart-rate kept dropping to zero. He had been placed in a hospital bed, a pacemaker had been placed in him, and Wicklow had marched to glory without him. He was only 39, he hadn’t Been There, and he was feeling very sorry for himself.

He hadn’t noticed that it was visiting time, and started (he wasn’t sure that he was meant to do that) when his wife and daughter appeared at the door of the ward.

His wife smiled, though with tears of relief in her eyes. “Hello, Tinman,” she said.

His daughter handed him a card made from a folded sheet of A4 paper. “Get Well Soon, Daddy”, it read. One of the two inner Ds was the wrong way round.

“Is your heart better now, Daddy?” she asked.

On TV the Wicklow captain had accepted the cup and was now thanking the manager, the fans, the squad and quite possibly the Unitarian Church Organ Restoration Committee. Sean didn’t care. As he looked into his daughter’s troubled little face his heart melted, and this time he knew it was meant to do that.

“Yes, darling,” he said softly. “It’s better than ever.”

**********************************************************************

It’s ten years ago today that I got my pacemaker, a small change to my body that has meant a huge change to my life, and this story is its birthday present.

The story itself is mostly fiction – my name is not Sean, I was 50 and not 39, Tingirl and her two brothers were much older than the girl in this tale.

Also, the All-Ireland Football Final takes place in September, not in January, and my home county of Wicklow are no closer to winning it than ever.

The Tinman Cometh – the Birth of Tinman, Part 7 (and Last)

first-birthdaySo. Today is January 22nd, and my pacemaker is one year old.

no wonder my heart stopped

Compared to all the crap that had gone before, my 8-day stay in Vincents was fairly uneventful. The staff were friendly, hard-working and knowledgable. The nurses were cute and, to my surprise and delight, some of the doctors were even cuter. I had the heart monitor removed, they waited a bit for that wound to heal, and then they put in the pacemaker. During my stay in Cardiac Care I got to be the youngest in a group for once, since most of the others were in their seventies, so I was the ward gofer, trekking off each morning to buy newspapers in the hospital shop. One morning NiceNurseNicola (one of the Russells from Skerries, as she used to describe herself) gave me an explanatory booklet about my pacemaker, and the patient on the front was also in his seventies. I think this was the only time I got down during my whole stay. “Look at him,” I said to NNN, pointing to the cover,  “is that not the age I should be to be going through all this?”

Most of the time I was fine, though. I was visited each day by Mrs Tin and an ever-changing selection of Tinkids, my dad came in a lot, and I was also visited by some of the workmates who regularly appear in these annals, including GoldenEyes, Blondiebird, TallNeuroticGirl and even The Overlord himself. I sent and received almost two hundred texts to and from various others. One guy from my local asked would I get to see the United game on the Saturday, and when I said no he offered to text me whenever there was a goal. That was one of the most dread-filled afternoons of my life (and I’m speaking here as a man who’s had blackouts and heart operations, and who once set fire to his kitchen) as all conversation gradually dried up and the Tinsons and I just stared at the still silent phone as the time ticked nearer and nearer to ten to five. With about eight minutes to go my phone finally beeped, and I fell upon it. “One-nil – Rooney,” read the text. “About fucking time,” I texted back, “do they not know I have a heart condition?” (I later discovered that one of the guys had suggested texting me that they were losing, but the general consensus in the pub had been that this might have killed me).

sacred-heartOne evening at the end of visiting time I was walking the family out to the front door. There is a statue of Jesus very like this picture in the front hall, with him pointing to his Sacred Heart as he always seems to be doing. “Look,” I said to the Tinkids, “Jesus had a pacemaker too.” Mrs Tin gave me a look of horror as if she reckoned I was now doomed to hell for all eternity, but I think that even if I am it will be worth it, just to have heard them all laugh during what must have been a really scary time for them.

At half-eight on the morning of the 22nd a guy arrived into the ward with a trolley to collect me. I climbed up onto it while he went off to sign some paperwork. After a couple of minutes I started calling out “I say? Driver?”. The man in the bed opposite said “I’ve been watching you this morning. I’ve been in here lots of times, and I’ve never seen anyone who’s about to go upstairs for an operation looked as relaxed as you.”

“Listen, ” I said, “I’ve been through eight months of not knowing when this will all end. All that time I was hoping for a day like this. I can’t wait to get upstairs.”

mended-heartTwo hours later I was back in bed and I sent out a group text saying “Am now part-man, part-machine”. The people at work were always giving out about how little time I’d taken off during all this (what was the point, I used to blackout at home too, with the difference being that at home I was doing it in front of my children) so HR Fireball texted “I suppose I’ll see you here in work tomorrow.” “Why?” I texted back, “will you not be there this afternoon?” (“Not in the least bit funny” was her reply).

CuteAccountantGirl, who has now left but with whom we still go on the beer sometimes, texted back “Congratulations Tinman!” and so is indirectly responsible for the name I took when I started all this blog stuff three months later.

And the following morning the doctors said I could go home. I texted “FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! THANK GOD I’M FREE AT LAST! Er, can I have a lift?” to Mrs Tin, said my goodbyes, and headed off to a slightly different life.

And in general this life is fine. I do feel the pacemaker turning on every so often, and occasionally it will irritate muscles around it, so that they keep pinging and spasming for a while after it had stopped. I can’t go through the X-Ray machine at airports (not, as I’d always thought, because the pacemaker would set off the machine, but rather because the machine would turn off the pacemaker). Getting to skip the queue is as not as much fun as it sounds, since it just means that I have to get patted down every time, and that’s not as much fun as it sounds either, since they always call a bloke to do it.

And look at my muscles!

And look at my muscles!

When swimming last summer I decided to wear a Rafael Nadal type t-shirt, since I didn’t want my kids or my nieces (or indeed, any of my in-laws) to see my chest with it’s three scars (monitor in, monitor out, pacemaker in) and the visible lump where the pacemaker is. My last lingering hopes of being a male stripper have vanished.

But at least now I can swim, without fear of blacking out and drowning. I can drive again, though the seven months without it has made me realise that I actually don’t like driving anymore. I can do almost everything that I used to do before, and also have an excuse for not doing things I don’t want to do (there’s a guy at work who arranges paint-balling every year, and he’s so young and sweet that I’ve never had the heart (sorry) to tell him that I didn’t want to go, so I’ve twice gone and had a really miserable and painful time, but this year I just was able to say I’m not allowed).

In other words, I’ve adapted. Very occasionally I feel it’s a bit unfair that a bloke my age should have gone through all this shit, but most of the time I’m amazed and thrilled that it all finally got sorted.

I am Tinman, and very content with that.

******************************************************************************************************************************

That’s it finished, right? You’ll be back to slagging the Government and talking about your kids or the cute girls at work from tomorrow? Promise?

I Promise.

One last thing. If you ever have to get circumcised or anything like that we don’t need a 7-post series about it. Understand?

Understood.

The Gift of Timing – The Birth of Tinman, Part 6

We’ve all had cars, TVs and other things which stopped working, yet when a ServicePerson turned up to fix them they worked perfectly, but then they’d pack up again as soon as said ServicePerson had left (fifty quid richer). In my case I’ve also had the experience of wearing a heart monitor for 48 hours and having my heart behave perfectly for all of that time. Still, my luck was about to change.

I turned up in St Vincents Hospital on December 18th to get a loop monitor inserted in my chest. The Cardiologist had explained that this might be in place for up to 18 months, and that they would take readings from it every three months or so to see  if my heartbeat was irregular or not.

operating-roomIn due course I was brought into a room and three doctors and a nurse set to work, wiring me up and then spreading a local anaesthetic on my chest, all the time chatting happily away like any group of professionals performing a routine task. But just as they started to make the incision I began to feel the by now familiar sinking sensation.

It was astonishing – I was blacking out in front of four medical people who were investigating my blacking out. Has anyone ever shown a better sense of timing?

If my blackouts used to cause panic among my workmates, it was nothing compared to the effect one had in a hospital. When I came round again I had an oxygen mask strapped to my face and the doctors were pressing buttons and turning knobs, all the time yelling at me to try and wake me up. When they saw I was ok one of them gave such a big sigh of relief that his mask inflated briefly in front of him like bubblegum. I think they thought they’d killed me, and I’d imagine their paperwork would be fairly onerous in such an event. Anyway, the four of them had seen my heart rate drop so low that it stopped briefly, so instead of three months I was told to return in four weeks to have the monitor read. “We reckon you need a pacemaker,” one of them said, “we just need some readings to show to a consultant.”

Four weeks passed with no real activity apart from the night of January 11th, when I awoke knowing I’d just had a pretty bad one, so on the 15th I went to work till eleven, then said “I’m off to get this thing read, I’ll be back around two”, left my computer running and my rucksack beside my desk, and headed off to Vincents. The lovely Áinle in Cardiology hooked me up, read the printouts, frowned and then said “I just want to show this to someone”, which I didn’t like the sound of, then practically ran out of the room, which I didn’t like the look of even more. She returned with four doctors, which is probably rarely a good sign. One of them showed me the printouts and pointed to a long black line which went on for page after page. “See that?” she said, “that’s your heart stopped for eighteen seconds last Friday night.” Even I was awestruck into silence by this.

“Anyway,” she continued, “we gave you the monitor to see if you needed a pacemaker, and now we know you do. We’re going to admit you, take out the monitor, and put the pacemaker in”.

“When?” I asked. She stared at me. “Now,” she said, “eighteen seconds is a very long time.” (She didn’t add “like, hello?” but the phrase hung unspoken in the air between us).

hospital-gown1So that was it. I rang Mrs Tin to tell her, and to ask her to bring in pyjamas and a dressing gown (well actually, to buy pyjamas and a dressing gown, because the comfy old t-shirts that you wear in your own bed seem decidedly shabby when you realise that the general public are going to see them). Then I rang GoldenEyes at work to tell her I wouldn’t be back, and to turn off my computer, then rang her again to tell her that I had a sandwich in my rucksack that she should either eat or throw away. After that I was dressed in a fetching hospital gown, complete with the kind of super-low neckline at the back that goes right down to your arse, and was brought off to meet the people in Cardiac Care who were to be my roommates for the next eight days.

************************************************************************************************************************

Will Tinman survive the operation? Er, well, yes, I’m the one telling the story. Oh, right, there won’t be much suspense so. Still, if you’ve stuck with it this far you might as well read the end of the saga in Part 7  – “The Tinman Cometh” .

Testing Times – The Birth of Tinman, Part 5

The heart monitor showed nothing.

This was a pity, since it sent us off in the wrong direction for a few months. With my own GP now back from holiday I had blood tests, an MRI scan, a (shudder) prostate test, all of which were negative. Meanwhile I was still blacking out every now and again (though I did have one glorious 57-day stretch without one), but had got better at recognising the onset signs, and usually managed to sit or lie somewhere before the actual collapse, so I wasn’t injuring myself anymore.

bar-stoolIn my local I used to prop myself in a corner of the bar, with my back to the wall, the counter on my right side, and the back of my stool on my left, and actually blacked out briefly there one night without falling, and with only one person of the three I was sitting with noticing what had happened. It’s a sign of how adaptive I was becoming to living with this permanently that I stayed on in the pub after the blackout, instead of rushing home as I did the first time.

Though I was slowly becoming resigned to a life without driving, without swimming, without walking anywhere alone, my wonderful GP certainly wasn’t, and her next step was to send me to a Neurologist – the brother of a well-known TV personality. It was he who started the whole cycle that led to me getting better.

neurologist1Dr Niall Tubridy – feck it, let’s name him, he was great – looks like, is as thin as, and has the same voice as his brother (really spookily, when I arrived into his Reception his brother’s show was on the radio). He listened to my story from the beginning and then said “so, what have you got?”

I stared at him. “Come on,” he said, “we all know the Internet’s out there, what have you looked up?”

I named a few things. “And what do you think you have?” he asked again.

“Er, all of them,” I muttered.

“Look, I’m going to give you all the brain tests now,” he said, “but I’m telling you before I start that this is a heart problem.”

“I’ve had a heart monitor, ” I said. “I don’t care,” he replied, “From what you’ve told me there’s something wrong with your heart. I’m going to write to your GP and tell her to organise an appointment with a cardiologist here.”

I was impressed by the fact that he said this before he gave me the neurological tests, as he wouldn’t have looked too clever if he’d then given me the tests and said “shit, no, I was wrong, there is something wrong with your brain”.

He was as good as his word, and a couple of weeks later I found myself in front of Dr Colm Keane, a cardiologist who decided that I should have a loop monitor fitted inside my chest which would record every time my heartbeat went above or below a certain level. An appointment was made, and on December 15th I turned up to have this fitted.

******************************************************************************************************************************

But the first monitor showed nothing. Will this be any different? Read on in Part 6 – “The Gift of Timing”.

Bedless in Bedlam – The Birth of Tinman, Part 4

So, I was put into an ambulance in front of the entire staff of the entire five floors of our building. Just to really rub it in, the one way system around Abbey Street meant that the ambulance had to drive round the building and then, nee-naring happily away, drive past them all again.

I was fairly groggy, having hit my head pretty hard, but when I looked over at GoldenEyes I was shocked.  I’ve never seen anyone so pale in all my life, and I realised that she (and probably the rest of the office) thought I was dying.a-and-eThe ambulance girl was testing me all this time, and it was she who was the first person ever to mention that my heart rate was very low, though she did say it might be because of shock. By then we had arrived at the Mater, and got the chance to experience A&E, Irish style.

I hadn’t rung Mrs Tin yet, since I decided that I’d wait till I had more info on what was wrong with me. I knew she’d have to give a reason why she was leaving to the Tinkids, and reckoned having her say “I’m going to see your Dad in the Hospital, I don’t know how bad he is” before driving off  would not go well. I also wanted to be able to tell her what ward I was staying in. It was only many hours later that I began to suspect that in fact they weren’t going to keep me in at all.

By then I’d had heart tests, chest and head x-rays, and numerous other tests, all of which seemed to involve having yet another needle stuck into my arm and yet more blood drawn out. I’d been to the loo, but just as I got there I was asked to wait outside while four Gardai, with a fifth one who was handcuffed to a guy in a wheelchair, who was also handcuffed to the chair, went in instead (A&E in the Mater is directly across the road from Mountjoy Prison). At one stage GE and I were just sitting, saying nothing, when an orderly came over with an empty glass jar. “Urine sample”, was all he said. “Is it? It’s very clear,” I answered (I was starting to feel better). “No, I want one,” he said. I looked at GE and sighed. “You can’t say I don’t know how to give a girl a good day out,” I said, standing to head off to the loo again.

When I returned GE had been joined by the HR Fireball, a mad Nordy woman who has since left to work nearer to home and her four young kids (and who I really miss). When I said that it looked as if I might in fact not be admitted HRF was horrified, and kept pointing out my head wound to anyone passing by, and suggesting in a loud Ballymena voice that I might have concussion.

doctor1Around this time a  young doctor brought me into a room, while the two girls sat outside, one either side of the door. The doctor gave me a 48-hour heart monitor, which had wires taped to my chest that led down to a box that I had to carry around for, well, 48 hours. He then told me I could go home. “What about going back to work?” I asked. And although I had two black eyes, a big bloody (no, literally) bump on my forehead and – by his own admission in giving me the monitor – a possible heart problem, he said “I don’t see why you can’t go back tomorrow”.

punch-up2Often in films a man will be cut or have blood poured on him before being dropped into a tank of pirhana or sharks, who will then devour him. I achieved much the same effect on the poor doctor (well, I was pissed off by then) by walking out the door and saying to the two girls “he says I can go back to work tomorrow”. I often wonder did he have to get therapy afterwards, after the verbal devouring they gave him.

I finally rang Mrs Tin and she set off to come & drive us all home, & we went back to the waiting room to (obviously) wait for her. By now it was after six, and A&E was full of drunks. One guy was lying across three seats and, when no-one came near him, rolled off onto the floor. One of the attendants walked over. “Come on, Peter,” he said, poking him with a biro, “you know you can’t stay here”. Unfortunately he said this in a Polish accent, and straight away one of the Real Dubs sitting waiting was up in arms, defending a fellow Irishman against this blow-in (who was taking all our jobs – after all, if he wasn’t here Real Dub could have been the one dealing with drunks & mopping up vomit). “You can’t try & move him like that. For all you know he has a serious injury”, said Real Dub, suddenly a health expert. I personally reckoned that the fact that the Polish guy knew Peter’s name probably meant that Peter tried to get a bed this way most evenings (which I later had confirmed to me, they either get admitted or the cops take them & put them in a cell – either way they get to sleep in a warm room), but Real Dub continued to harangue the attendant, demanding immediate treatment for poor afflicted Peter.

Peter somewhat spoiled his argument then by getting up, going out for a cigarette, then coming back in and lying down again.

It was almost worth the whole traumatic day just to see the look on Real Dub’s face.

***************************************************************************************************************

Will the heart monitor reveal anything? Will Tinman realise that there are only 2 days left till  his Pacemaker Birthday and that he has 3 parts left in this series? Find out in Part 5 – “Testing Times”.

Being Outed: The Birth of Tinman, Part 3

At six a.m on August 15th, 2007, it was raining.

I had quite an important meeting organised for that afternoon, so was dressed slightly better than usual for work. I looked out the window during breakfast, decided I didn’t fancy getting these clothes wet, and opted to drive the whole way into the office.

driving-in-the-rainThe only way in which driving right into the very heart of Dublin is ever an option is to be there before seven a.m., so I rocketed along the M50 at astonishing speeds (in the aforementioned rain) and duly arrived at 6.55. Now I know that I could, of course, have blacked out at 120kph on the Motorway, but at the time they were still happening infrequently enough to not loom large in my mind.

That was the last time I drove for seven months.

At about 10.30 I was walking back from the kitchen in the office with a mug of tea and a glass of water. About ten feet from my desk I felt the now familiar draining begin. Desperate that no-one see me fall, I put the water on a printer and then knelt down, hoping I could fight it off. I then, rather amazingly, placed my tea on the carpet a few feet away from me, so that when I did black out and topple over, as of course had always been inevitable, I did as little damage as possible.

I was comprehensively outed, though, especially as MyAgeGirl saw me fall and apparently ran round yelling “CPR! CPR!”. When I came round I opened my eyes, saw about twenty people around me, and closed them tight. “Crap, I’m at work, aren’t I?” I muttered.

“You are,” I heard The Overlord say. I opened my eyes again, sat up at looked at everyone. “Well, this is embarrassing,” I said.

“Do you need CPR?” asked The Overlord. “Dunno,” I said, “can I pick who I get it from?”

He just stared at me for a second. “You’re feeling better, I take it,” he said drily.

And I was. So I got up, went back to my desk, assured everyone that I was fine, didn’t need to go home, was seeking treatment, etc. People came and suggested possible causes, everything from Epilepsy (my own vote at the time), to Multiple Sclerosis(?).

And the morning drifted on. People still suggested I should go home, but I couldn’t, because GoldenEyes and I still had this meeting with a guy over from the UK later that afternoon.

Neither of us ever got there. At 12.15 the fire alarm sounded in the building. A restaurant was being fitted-out on the ground floor at the time, and the oxy-actylene torches would set the alarm off about three times a week. We all grumbled, got-up, and all five floors – about 400 people – trooped down the stairs and gathered outside in the Millennium Walkway.

cartoon-ambulanceAnd that was when I felt it again. I leaned back against the wall, said to GoldenEyes “I feel terrible,” and before she could do anything, I fell face forward onto the concrete. My forehead and right eye swelled straight up like a balloon, and though I came round almost immediately, someone from one of the other companies on another floor had already rung for an ambulance.

It was agreed that GE would come with me, and off we headed for the Mater Hospital.

****************************************************************************************************************************

Will they find out what’s wrong? What’s A&E in the Mater like on a Wednesday afternoon? Find out in Part 4 – “Bedless in Bedlam”.

Starless and Bible-Black – The Birth of Tinman, Part 2

I am often first into the office, since during the working week I seem to wake up very early, though at weekends I revert to my teenager-self and have to be dragged out of bed by a tow-truck.

One morning in May 2007 I was alone in the office when I bent down to pick up a box and awoke on the ground, with a pain in the top of my head where I had hit it off a wall-corner on my way down.

I jumped up with a shock, trying to figure out what had happened. I vaguely remembered a draining feeling, as if all sensation was pouring out of me, starting at the top of my head and slowly sliding down about as far as my shoulders before I felt just blackness. I also remembered a struggle to re-awaken, and there seemed to be shouting, as if I were shouting at myself to wake up.

The strange thing was that now that I was awake I felt absolutely fine, so I didn’t go home. I just carried on working, typing with one hand while rubbing my herad vigourously with the other (which actually didn’t slow down my typing speed all that much). I persuaded myself that I had actually fallen asleep for a second, and resolved to stop getting up quite so early.

faintingAbout two weeks later, on a quiet Monday night in my local, I was talking to two friends when I suddenly felt the draining again. I said “I feel really weird” and then toppled sideways off my bar-stool, hitting (wouldn’t you know it) my head off the corner of the radiator on the way down. Again there was the blackness, the struggle to awaken and the shouting, though this time there was of course actual shouting. Again I felt fine when I awoke and kept assuring everyone that I was grand. I looked longingly at the remaining three-quarters of my drink but decided I’d look really sad if I sat there and drank it, so I accepted a lift home from the bar-owner. I told myself again that I had fallen asleep, though it sounded a lot less convincing this time, so that night I told Mrs Tin for the first time. I also told GoldenEyes and The Overlord (the MD) at work, was told by all three that I should do something about it, so I did. I did what any man will do when faced with a potentially serious medical problem, which is to ignore it until it gets bored and slopes away.

The next two blackouts were slightly different. One was again in the office, though this time in mid-morning, but I was sitting down and grabbed the arms of my chair so I didn’t fall over, though I did black out. As luck would have it, there was no-one sitting near me at the time, so I got away with it. The fourth one happened when I was asleep. I know that sounds unlikely, but I knew by the struggling-awake sensation that I had blacked out, and indeed by the end a total of six of my blackouts, including the very worst, occurred when I was asleep.

Anyway, by now even I had decided it was time to see a doctor. My GP is absolutely brilliant but was she was on holiday, so I went to see her stand-in. This did not go well. He clearly decided that I’d just been drunk in the pub, discounted the one where I was asleep, and was skeptical about the one where I didn’t fall out of my chair. This just left the one where I’d been picking up the box, which he said was caused by fainting from standing up too fast.

So no help there. Obviously I’d get no further unless I fell more often, or more spectacularly, or both.

Luckily, August 15th was just around the corner.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

What’s so special about August 15th? How long can Tinman keep this hidden from his workmates? Is he going to be able to think of a way to get a picture of Yelena Isinbayeva into this series? Find out the answers (though not about Yelena) in Part 3 – “Being Outed”.

Prelude to a Fall – The Birth of Tinman, Part 1

It is September 2006, and Tinman (or just Man as I was then) is drunk.

It’s Friday night at about 12.45, and I’ve just got off the last DART from Dublin, having gone straight to the pub next door with my workmates at 5.30. Drinking all evening is a talent which I’ve largely lost over the years, being more a head-out-at-ten type of bloke, but now that I’m working with other people again after years of self-employment I find the urge hard to resist.

wile-e-fallingAnyway, I’m just at the bottom of my road, with about another one hundred yards to go, when suddenly I hit my forehead really hard, skiddingly and sickeningly, against the tarmac footpath. I lie shocked on my face for a few seconds, then slowly push myself up onto my elbows. Straight away I know I’m in trouble, as I can feel blood trickling into my eye, and what isn’t trickling into my eye is dripping directly onto the footpath.

I get to my feet, finish the walk home, creep into the bathroom, and steel myself before I switch on the light. The horror show that greets me is quite impressive, though I can tell it’s all on the surface. I wake Mrs Tin, having prepped her first before I turn the light on, and between us we stop the bleeding.

Cute, aren't I

Cute, aren't I

I spend the next three weeks wearing plasters, a baseball hat and dark glasses at work. I also have to wear zip-up hoodies belonging to Tinson1 as I can’t get a jumper over my head. When people ask what happened I tell them quite openly that I fell while drunk, and presumably earn myself a reputation as a lush AND a bit of an idiot. The photos of that year’s Christmas Party show my forehead as a patchwork of angry red scars, and though these have faded so as to be almost invisible now, they still do not tan, so whenever we do get sunny weather I get the mottled complexion of a giraffe, though sadly not the height.

There it is , then, a salutary tale about the evils of over-indulgence in drink. I was truly mortified at the time about what a gobshite I’d made of myself.

And yet… sometimes I’d wonder how it had happened. I didn’t trip, because the tarmac was new and there was nothing to trip on. And, while a person who’s been drinking will obviously blame everything on that, I was 48 years of age, had been drunk hundreds of times before over the previous thirtytwo years, and had never before fallen straight onto my face, making no attempt to put my hands out to stop myself.

And I’d done all the hard part … I’d left the pub in time for the train, I’d negotiated the traffic and crowds of a Friday-night city centre, I’d managed the steps at Tara Street Station, stayed awake all the way home, and then walked through the rock and mud-encrusted right-of-way through Greystones Golf Course in total darkness. Then, right at the easy part at the end, I’d just fallen over. It was as if I’d, I don’t know, blacked-out or something.

Looking back now, it’s obvious that this was the start of it all. Though nothing else was to happen for another eight months.

***************************************************************************************************

Will Tinman find out what’s wrong with him? Will the blackouts start again? Will Tinman remember that this is a series, and write another chapter? Find out in Part 2 – “Starless and Bible-Black”.