4 Jun 2013: I waited for you when I was half sick, so where are you tonight, Sweet Marie?

In Memoriam Allan Ferguson, 1944-2013.

Note re corrections: it seems unavoidable given the fact that these are “bulletins from the front” that when I review them after posting I find many errors and opportunities for change; but later readers get a better product. Therefore, you should perhaps wait a bit to read these posts, until the change rate settles down, say six hours after they appear.

20 minute first thing workout with supine free-dance, 100 supine pull-ups (easy pull-ups, that is), and 80 step aerobic steps (50 leading with good right leg, 30 with strengthening “withered” left leg as left leg adds muscle and flesh)).

Then with no breakfast and nil by mouth had to be CT-scanned. These CT-scans take a lot out of the patient. To me they are a venial (that is minor, hopefully so) violation of the doctor’s “Hippocratic” oath, “not knowingly to do harm”.

This is because a medical regimen that causes suffering in the patient is normally expected to redound, later, to the patient’s benefit. But the suffering of the CT scanned patient leads to her benefit only indirectly, and this suffering is conditional on the ability of technicians and doctors to properly use a scan.

Doctors such as my father were so (mostly rightfully) overcome by the insight provided by scanning controlled by software starting in the late 1970s that the interests of the scan were in a form of casuistry equated with those of the patient.

But this means the patient must drink a horrible orange flavored drink with a nasty aftertaste, lie usually upon someplace that really hurts and be injected with radiation like Superman or Supergirl on Kryptonite, by specialists with no training in medical ethics, and, a compassion for human suffering more variable, especially in the downward direction, from that of doctors and nurses.

And…according to my GP, Dr. Susan Jamieson, the very insight provided in three dimensions to the mysteries of a living body serve partly to reveal further darkness and more mystery. This is rather like Bathyscapes and deep-sea diving bells (like the contraption that Bob Ballard used to discover the Titanic) which serve to reveal fascinating but obscure things just beyond the search lights.

Scanning begets more scanning, and perhaps some doctors lose my Father’s “smart fingers” with which he used to poke us kids when we would complain, usually of bogus ailments to get out of school.

Previous CT scans had gone smoothly but today there was some sort of problem with the injection of contrast medium, probably minor if indeed real at all, and, I pitched a temper tantrum.

The problem with the injection was, I think, not being able to understand Medical Chinese, a bubble in the saline solution such that the tech had to summon the doctor to make the injection without injecting the air bubble.

Then, later on and in the scanner I had a pain when the contrast medium was injected (through this very clever “port” or fixed, pre-made injection site which avoids the risk and usually the pain of multiple intravenous injections), but subsequently things went well considering.

But here’s a question for medical ethics. Should the patient suffer, especially as children still suffer in hospitals (pain without informed consent except from parents) without control over procedures, for the INDIRECT benefit of a clean scan? I’d ask my Pop but he’s gone up to Heaven.

The Temper Tantrum was pitched by your correspondent when the head nurse, a caricature of the strict Asian nurse, would not allow me to go have lunch at DeliFrance and then mosey on over at my leisure to the inter-hospital bus-ambulance terminal.

I hadn’t eaten since dinner yesterday and had nil by mouth all morning, and given my dramatic weight loss I felt I needed to have a leisurely lunch on the double.

I started to rage whereupon two remarkably ugly and strangely skinny guys showed up in jackets marked Security. Perhaps they were Kung Fu masters. Fortunately, the much more amusing ambulance guys also showed up and offered to allow me to just grab something at DeliFrance and hop on the bus immediately.

Resignedly this is what I did, loading and carbing it up on a blueberry muffin, a Caesar salad, a vegetarian pizza, and a black coffee. Ate most of it on the ambulance-bus despite my dislike of eating on the run.

No opportunity to find Lindt chocolate or to rest at DeliFrance, but at least I wasn’t put in irons. I have to learn what part of my anger is good, and gets things done and what part isn’t. Today the Temper Tantrum had, I think, the virtue of clearly communicating my need to keep my weight up. It’s basically wrong to make an underweight patient Serve the Machine by starving himself to death!

Dream: Where Are You Tonight, Sweet Marie?

I was waiting for you next to a walled garden with a tree in it, like the walled gardens just to the south of Sloane Square near the King’s Arms pub, which was replaced by an upscale cafe. The old pub catered to Chelsea pensioners and Irish workers, and such as these were no longer wanted post-Thatcher, on Sloane Square…it’s Tommy this and it’s Tommy that, etc. The Royal Court Theater remains, along with Peter Jones.

The songsters of the air repair
To the green regions of old Sloane Square
There’s no respite on Sunday when the shops close down
We try not to argue and in the sunshine, desperately hold hands.
When does the pub reopen?
We’re only American tourists in love.

In the dream you never came, so I walked on down the street, removing a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of my 1973-fashionable jacket and lighting it with a Dunhill.

The pack was the “hard” carton style of Marlboros but it was a milder, Virginia English tobacco. Woodbines? Gauloise Disque Filtre?

In the rain, I reasoned, there’s always a cigarette to keep you company. Cheese, get me Dream Rewrite. A Stones song.

The symbolism was, if anything, over-obvious, for the Tree of Life in a Garden meant that the Edwardian town home was also the Garden of Eden. By using my “little anodynes” instead of paying attention to my marriage and taking my role as a husband and father seriously, I had walled myself off, or so I thought, from Eden. Yet…and this is the strange thing…I get Eden anyway, whether on a solitary ten mile run up to the Mountain Inn or in an email with pictures of my granddaughters.

and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy , shewn
On Man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured.

The paradox in the above passage (from Milton’s Paradise Lost) is that the implication of “infinite goodness” is that God can save the Devil, but even as Pietists like Kant could never quite accept the meaning of Enlightenment, which would be the dissolution of all irrational demands, such as my late son demanded, Milton retreated from the implications of God’s goodness. A mediaeval devil like in th’old play still must make his appearance as a sort of very vestigial human sacrifice.


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