Everywhere the necessity for togetherness,
Everywhere our separation.
It seems grand to start a blog referencing Nietzsche, yet, it seems appropriate.
Within the greatness of humanity, that is, the technological and scientific advances of our age, the artistic and emotional evolutions, is a core of collaboration, of working together towards a greater good, and yet, like a shadow we are haunted by the dark side of our spirit which tears us apart, which forces us into competition and undoing.
This morning I woke to the theme tune to Rocky IV.
That’s the one where the champ is forced into a fight with Captain Ivan Drago, hero of the Soviets. (Actually Swedish actor, Dolf Lundgren).
It came out in 1985 when East versus West filled the headlines.
Today, 40 years later, again, we have East versus West.
MacDonald’s and Ikea withdrawn from Russian cities, the Rouble disconnected from international finance. Bombs in Kyiv.
It is admirable to look up and out and criticise the world around, the naivety of the Russians, Syrians and Byelorussians.
Close-by, the same separateness exists.
In healthcare we have the patient, the monad, the focus of our attention and, all around we have competing disciplines, occasionally coming-together (we call this multidisciplinary working), frequently falling-back on outdated tropes.
Health and Social Care.
The individual’s need is perceived as being related to their health, that is, all that has to do with the beating of the heart and the movement of their physical body and, social care, which is the actions of that body, how it behaves, where it lives, how it washes and dresses itself.
All as if they are independents.
And so too with the mental and physical.
Try speaking to a psychiatrist about the pain in your knee or your disordered bowel, ‘That is a physical health matter, I cannot advise,’ they will tell you, or, conversely, ‘I can’t face the world, I’ve had enough, please help,’ you cry, ‘That, my dear patient, is a matter of your mind, I will find you a good mental health professional. (6-week wait). Let me know if you have any more chest pain.’
These microcosms of health and wellbeing seem laughable, yet, they are all too true, and, they are the basis of what makes us human.
We see the world and our little sphere of influence, beyond that is a blur, an existential myopia.
I live in South Yorkshire, there are a half a million or so souls hereabouts, living within the borders of Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham, and here too the barriers exist. Try registering with a doctor if you live at the wrong end of the street, ‘I am afraid your address is outside our boundary,’ or even more difficult, requesting a disabled parking badge or attendance allowance, ‘You have a Rotherham GP when you live in Barnsley, that’s a problem.’
It is ‘The computer saying no,’ on a grand scale.
Humans build the computers and create the algorithms, it is the fault of the people not the machines.
‘They make a desert and call it peace,’ perhaps it is the complexity of relationships that are too difficult.
We have evolved to get-on with our close families and our clan. The human mind can’t compute mega-cities; it needs to close-down. This is also likely why we struggle with leadership in the modern era – people aren’t constructed to function at such scales, consequently you get arseholes – Putin, or charlatans, Johnson.
I feel like a broken record, raising the banner of person-centred care, as if this is a panacea.
And yes, it is.
It is the method for stripping away the nationality, nationalism, the mental and physical health, the care, the social workers and medics, getting under the skin, rub rosa, to the person.
The human that is all too human.
Vulnerable and uncertain in an unpredictable world.
Or is this but a fata morgana?
Stripping away, hacking at the unessential, to the core of who or what we are.
This is the transparency I encounter when I visit patients at home, in their poorliness or vulnerability, on their death-beds, in their terminal loneliness.
Everything else is a joke.
I will keep looking, I will keep aspiring to unity, to unification, to the oneness that is so very obvious yet so hidden away.
All my love, without the wax.