Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy


Grumpy today. On top of usual post-chemo-blues (Bob Dylan, you there? When you write the song I want royalties) I have bad-back-blues (again, royalties). What? You really want to know? Flat battery in farm truck which was needed. Lifted it out for recharging, totally underestimating its double normal battery weight. Staggered up the hill, then, like a delayed reaction after being shot, I heard a crack and clutched my back.

Oh it’ll be OK eventually – only hurts when I stand, sit, lie down, or succumb to the irresistible desire to laugh uproariously.

Some more thoughts on life and death, though I suppose you have heard more than enough of self-indulgence from me.

Looking around on Wednesday I once again thought how well/lucky I was compared to a number of those around me. They, in turn, I guess, were assessing their own medical status and thinking they weren’t as bad as some of their neighbours. All the way down to those so sick they were beyond medical status and concerned only with survival.

Which brings me to another of my pet media peeves (number 666 if I have kept count correctly) the cliché that someone is “fighting for their life” not infrequently accompanied by the oxymoron-making phrase “in a coma”.

I don’t see people “fighting for their lives”. I do see doctors and nurses fighting for them, but the patients are calm, cooperative, grateful, friendly, helpful. There are indeed battles going on, in near-well and near-death alike, but they are cellular battles, chemical battles, immune systems and cell repair systems battling away, medicines doing their jobs. Not people fighting for their bodies but the reverse.

Of course there are situations where people fight to save themselves – caught up in fires, floods, earthquakes, trapped by a rock and cutting their own arm off. And good on them. I don’t think I would be brave in a collapsed building, and I know I couldn’t chop an arm off.

So does the transfer of this kind of survival battle to hospitals matter? I think it does because it implies, where people (again to quote the media cliché) “lose their battle with cancer”, they have failed, not fought hard enough, not been strong enough, perhaps even not wanted to win enough. Not fair on patient, not fair on the family left behind.

Surviving a health crisis depends on all kinds of factors. What it doesn’t depend on is strength of character – the media should really stop branding people like that. Everyone dealing with serious illness – patients and medical professionals – is a giant trying to lift a heavy weight. Even giants can fail.

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5 comments on “Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy

  1. witsendnj says:

    It’s called blame the victim, and is a distraction from the real causes of most cancers – environmental pollution.

    The culprits are irresponsible industries, but also each of one of us who contributes directly, by purchasing, using, and carelessly disposing of toxic products, and mainly by NOT demanding governments that regulate the industries. Rather than subsidize filthy corporations with out tax money, our elected officials should demand they pay the full cost of their manufacturing and product use to the air, water, soil and food that is part of the commons.


  2. Colin Samundsett says:

    David, the burden of cracken-backs are no laughing matter, even while you are straightened out; but don’t sneeze, DON’T SNEEZE while so burdened.
    Hope you can maintain calm and decorum until repair of your architectural framework. And then, in comfort, defer for a more reasonable time the inevitable “battle” which we are both sure to “lose” in the next couple of decades: Homo sapiens can’t sidestep its evolutionary fundamentals.
    Cheers, Colin


  3. mariongroves says:

    Thank you David for expressing the frustration and anger I have felt whenever the melodramatic media wax lyrical about the “courageous battlers” who have “fought the enemy cancer and won”, as though people who die of cancer simply didn’t try hard enough. My late husband died of bowel cancer after many months of suffering and nobody fought harder to stay with his young family than he did. His death was not due to a lack of courage or positive thinking and it is an insult to his integrity and his memory to suggest such a thing. I wish you well in your own journey back to good health.


    • David Horton says:

      So sorry for your loss Marion, they must have been terrible fearful times. Your own strength of character must have been very great.

      Lovely to see you dropping by. Hope you will call in again, I do occasionally write stuff that isn’t just feeling sorry for myself!


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