Saturday 22 October 2016

Thought Picnic: Alone and thoughtful of the week passing

Collecting my thoughts
Alone at home with the opportunity to collect my thoughts at the end of a terrible week of sorrowful news, my therapy begins here.
Entrenched in our bunkers of grief at the passing of a sister survived by aging parents and much older siblings everyone is ensconced somewhere on the spectrum of the K├╝bler-Ross model of the five stages of grief.
I cannot speak in any clarity of the reaction of others, but on receiving the news on Tuesday, I was quite shocked but not surprised. I understood to some extent the graveness of the diagnosis having had some doctor friends of mine independently assess the situation and offer a general prognosis.
In miracles of medicine
In view of that, I was already preparing myself for an eventuality against the hopes and anticipations of others who’s only fading desire was for a miracle. I do believe in miracles, miracles of human ingenuity that has come through amazing advances in knowledge and technology.
Human physiology, however, reacts in different ways to thought processing and medicine, the outcomes then determine by reason of speed and progress whether something miraculous has happened or not.
Respite and relapse are not miracles, remission might look miraculous, but we do have to look elsewhere for the underpinning elements of our unresearched assumptions of the miraculous. I have read of miracles, but I have seen no evidence of any from a conclusively scientific point of view.
Believing in human ingenuity
When I faced the prospect of a terminal prognosis from cancer some 7 years ago, I know when I stopped hoping for a miracle and went for the understanding and knowledge of medicine. They knew what the ailment was, knew how to treat it, but had a simple caveat, it all depended on how I could withstand the treatment, failing which, I would be dead in 5 weeks.
I survived and there is no doubt that medicine played a major part in that, but my ability to withstand the onslaught of chemotherapy was strengthened by my Christian faith. The end of the matter was that it took a considerably lesser time for the cancer lesions to heal and my doctors and nurses termed that miraculous. I accept that with much gratitude and thankfulness.
Failings of Nigerian healthcare systems
We had no such choices in the medical institutions in Nigeria, the sometime foremost teaching hospital could not conclusively determine the ailment and as they charged inordinate sums of money never did have the means or equipment to start any of the ameliorating treatments necessary whilst we sought a better medical opinion of the real situation.
On knowing what the situation was, there were different forces at play, from the desperate and imposing to the rational and pragmatic, within that dynamic more confusion took hold over the need to coalesce and communicate. Browbeaten by a system that demanded trust without question, there were splits in decision-making and consequently, division leading to rancour.
On choices, outcomes, and reactions
The principal in the matter rarely had a say in whatever outcomes were proposed even though she had in no uncertain terms clearly indicated what her choices were. I probably was too understanding about what she was adamant of and accepting of that viewpoint that she was no more fighting and so I did not press an alternative or find the need to persuade otherwise.
Beneath the whole thing, I was very angry and very sad, angry that so much could have been better managed long before it became critical, angrier that the more primitive of passions ruled over the rational mind in the many syncretic rituals that were supposed to have put this whole matter at bay decades ago.
I was apoplectic with rage at the absence of the support for the discipline necessary to help the infirm. There is no doubt that I was both cross and angry with the matriarch, her influence over many issues made it literally impossible to pursue a rational line of thinking and ideas. I was sad, that the end was nigh.
For her honour and memory
Yet, in the aftermath of all this, I am supposed to let bygones be bygones and seek some sort of resolution towards reconciliation. It is going to be difficult, yet, we must hope that something good would come out of this, in honour of the dearly departed and hopefully as a sign of respect and tribute to her short but eventful life.
It is still very raw, and whilst I am well past denial, I am still deep in anger and feeling somewhat depressed, I cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel called acceptance. The dead never need worry about these things anymore, the living, however, have a duty to ensure that the dead are not forgotten in the swirl of our petty differences.

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