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- Page 6

  • Diagnosis: Careless

    Yesterday I was hospital visiting to a couple of elderly folk, a now familiar routine almost every week it seems.

    I went first to see my 95 year old who had been admitted, initially overnight for a follow-up to her oesophageal botox treatment ("making beautiful on the inside" as she put it).  It transpired that this had not been successful (I did a quick web trawl, the success rate is evidently only around 30%) and as she was dehydrated she'd been kept in for a few days to rectify matters.  She said that a doctor had been to see her and explained that there were only two treatments for her condition - the botox, which had failed, and a dilatation procedure which (in her words) "would kill me."  A second doctor had then been to see her and suggested that the dilatation procedure might be the best way forward. Needless to say she was confused and frightened.  Having done my bit of web trawling, the suggestion is that the procedure is not dangerous so I can only assume the first doctor was concerned about more general risks of invasive procedures on very elderly patients.

    The second person has dysphasia following a stroke, so her ability to communicate verbally is very limited, despite her brain being as acute as ever.  She has no way beyond yes/no answers of expressing anything she needs, wants or feels, and is clearly not too well as present.  I dread to think what she might fear and be unable to explore if she is given equally blunt information.

    I know we live in an age where patients are entitled to know the truth (for which I am grateful) but, if what I was told is accurate, and there's no reason to think it wasn't, then the mode of delivery was at best insensitive and more probably careless.  Having been with a patient a year ago on a Saturday afternoon when she was called in to see a doctor alone to be given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, I fear the latter is more likely.  I know medical staff are very busy and get very tired, and I know they have a tough job to do, but just sometimes I wonder if a little more attention could be given to training them in how to talk to patients.

  • When Even Credible Alternatives Aren't Enough...

    In yesterday's county council election I cast my vote based on what I believed was a 'credible alternative' to the BNP rather than the candidate I would ordinarily have chosen.  At one point yesterday a lovely black guy was taking timbers off the roof of the former chapel whilst a car saying 'vote BNP' sat opposite.  I could have wept.  I studied the list of candiates, thought what happened in the district council elections two years ago, and voted for the person I thought was most likely to stand a chance of being elected - I was right, she came second, but we still ended up with a BNP councillor, and I am very much saddened.

    Yes, I believe in freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, but I also believe in truth, justice, freedom, mutual respect and responsibility.  I know there is an Anglican church at roughly D-1 with vocal BNP sympathisers, and both my Anglican collague and I have from the pulpit called on people to vote responsibly and avoid being beguiled by the lure of extremism (without breaking any laws of course!).  Even at our churches together meeting we touched on this topic.

    Tonight I am sad.  I am sad for my Barbadean church member (though thankfully he doesn't live in this ward).  I am sad for the black guy who works so hard next door.  I am sad for the Chinese folk who run the takeway round the corner, the black TA at school and the Poles who work in the meat factory.   Above all I am sad for the 27% or so of those who voted who were beguiled or bewildered enough to vote as they did.

    Now that our representation on both district and county councils is by extremists we find ourselves essentially silenced: the churches (rightly) tell us not to engage with these people, but who know can speak for us at council level?

    Lord have mercy upon us all.



  • "She was very old"

    Luke 36b, pertaining to Anna the prophet.

    Next week I have to speak at the local Women's Federation Rally, and after much wondering what on earth to talk about, found the story of Anna coming to mind.

    We know so little about her and I found myself wondering about the story behind the story:

    Anna had married (presumably in her early teens) but was widowed after seven years - so still a very young woman.  Had she had children?  Presumably not since she spent the rest of her life fasting and praying in the Temple (though she must have had some time off to eat otherwise she'd never have  lived to be 'very old').  How had she reacted to the 'curved ball' life threw her - hard to imagine a society with no safety net for a young widow, but she may well have been left destitute and for some reason never married again.  How was she treated by other people?  It seems that rather than growing bitter or resentful she found a new purpose in life - to all intents and purposes becoming some sort of Jewish nun!

    But was the Temple really so much better?  As a woman she could only ever be on the periphery of Temple life, allowed so far and no further.  I wonder how many young couples she saw bringing their baby sons to the Temple?  I wonder how she felt when she was reminded once more of her own loss and sadness?

    Anna was 'very old' and the psalmist sees silver hair as a righteous crown - so presumably Anna was recognised as a good person, albeit one whose life was out of the ordinary.

    Unlike Simeon, Anna's words to Mary and Joseph are not recorded but she saw something special and thanked God for it, and spoke about the child she saw to those around her.  I wonder what this says to us about older people recognising God-given potential, affirming and encouraging it?

    I don't quite know where the talk/sermon will go, but at least I now have a few ideas to play with!


  • Aha!

    Hat Tip to Angela for this fun website with pie charts to make you smile and say 'hmmm....'


    So now I know how to get my papers done on time and to length!

  • A First Time for Everything!

    So here's my first - I have just asked the university for a deadline extension for one of the two pieces I have to submit this year.  At one level I am very disappointed by this: I hate failing to meet deadlines, even those that are self-imposed, and have been known to work crazy hours to meet deadlines even when delays are caused by others.  At another level I am relieved: the pressures of pastoral life this year have meant that I have done very little research work and have struggled to find more than the odd hour here or there to write.  Indeed, had it not been for a couple of train journeys and flights I would not have had any significant writing time at all.

    I am grateful for the option of a deadline extension, and don't feel too bad because I have at least negotiated it on honest grounds (I used to get very irritated with students who asked for extensions in week 1 because they'd booked their holidays at the time papers had to be submitted).  However, it isn't something I want to be making a habit of - it causes as much angst as it overcomes!  Now I just have to ensure that what I do submit is of good enough quality - and comments on the draft of the paper I will submit  in July suggest that with a bit of tidying up, it will be.  Phew.

    And for those who never thought they'd see this day.... as some of you have said to me at various times, never say never!