On being laid-up for a week

If my work defines me, who am I?  If my health defines me, what am I?  If my wealth defines me, where am I?  If my actions defines me, why am I?  If I choose any of these to define me … how am I victimising me?

A week ago I visited our doctor’s surgery and my label of COPD.  A label given two years ago.  A consequence so easily to become a victim to COPD.  Victims don’t get to choose.  I chose choice and lived as normal – just with a bit more puffing (and now a lot more puffing).

People who treat people have a choice to make as well.  To treat victims, or to treat people.  And because people are people, the ones who treat victims work alongside those who don’t.  This time I saw a doctor who didn’t.  Because just as victims don’t get to choose – those who treat victims don’t offer real choice either.

I wonder if that is what defines us.  All of us.  Every who, what, where, why and how.

Do I look at you, do I think of you, do I need you to be a victim … and do I look at me, think of me, need me to be a victim?  Do I need to know better than you what is (really) best for you, and do I need me not to have a choice so I can never (really) be wrong?

Because I have been wrong these past couple of years.

I have rejected the advice of those who treat me as a victim.  With hindsight the advice was good.  But to accept it would have to become complicit in becoming a victim.  So I ignored the advice and minimised the actual consequences, downplayed the puffing, hid the breathlessness, distracted when challenged.

I fell victim to not being a victim!  Go figure!

Now given the choice between hospitalisation and a “same day response team” I chose the latter.  With prescription in hand and the promise of phone calls later that day I went home again filled with hope and curiosity (and the reality that hospitalisation was still on the list if … ).  

Same day response team?  I have never heard of anything much in our National Health Service that offered same day anything for slightly ill people (like me).

But three hours later and a fully qualified nurse with big bags of medical magic was sitting on our living room floor asking me questions.  My wife had already collected a slightly smaller bag of prescribed medications, and along with the hardware left by this nurse I had a four-hourly routine in place filling each twenty-four hours for the next seven days.  This nurse doesn’t treat victims either.

Do you know how much easier it is not to be a victim of “not being a victim” when surrounded by such people?  But there is a cost.

This past week I have learned that information is king.  Knowing my temperature, the colour of hard-won sputum, when each four-hour slot is here, how much medication and when, knowing when to clean the hardware, not expecting others to do stuff all the time, allowing others to do stuff when I can’t, allowing others to be scared for them not me, learning how to still be me without allowing the easy “defining” to slip in …

Being a victim whispers constantly.  Not being a victim to “not being a victim” whispers constantly.  Being me is to hear through the whispers.

I have no idea where this goes.  I hope – and sense – it is to recovery at home in the next week or so.  But should it require hospitalisation then I will follow good advice.  

And I am learning something about not being a victim to “not being a victim”.  

It’s never about you or how you view yourself or me.  It’s always about me not defining me and you.  It’s never about the inviting whispers.  It’s always about giving good advice a proper hearing.  That’s when I am being me.

As for the COPD?  If you don’t know what that is …

(how long have I waited to write these two words?)

Google it.




2 thoughts on “On being laid-up for a week

  1. Thank you Paul you have made me think – again. COPD does not exactly entail COPIng,neither does my Epilepsy, we may speak of management of compliance to those prescribed routines. The Victim I fret about, I discovered is myself, and this bears a very strange relationship to reality when my BPAD come into play.
    Over the years I have tried to love both the Epilepsy and BPAD. to get to know them since they are a factor of myself I can never afford to ignore since should I do so I might be dead or in an asylum.
    I feel you are experiencing the relationship crisis that occurs once we do agree to admit and manage that this or these are in us but not Us. There is angst between ourselves and our perceived relationship with God, because of what we may see as denial, shame yet there is your GSHJ who stands between you and God and he will overcome.


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