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Friday, 19 April 2013

Screwing with the Hippocratic oath. Choices.

"I didn't mean to be hurtful" the mid wife at the Halappanavar inquest offers, "I didn't mean to be hurtful,  when I told her  that this is a catholic country",  she having  being sternly reminded at the same inquest that it is the legal and not the religious rule that prevails in Irish hospitals.  Right.  Does it  though?  Does it really?  Well yes.  And no.  And yes. And no not really.   We flounder  in  a legal quagmire because of the catholic business,  in fact .  And yes we are sorry,  and so we told Mr Halappanavar.  We are sorry, we are embarrassed, we are exposed.  We are the catholics.

The midwife tells the inquest that her remarks were made in the context of a friendly chat with Mrs Halappanavar.  She meant no harm. She meant no harm  as she in effect told Mrs Halappanavar that she, the patient,  did not have the right to choose. Though Mrs Halappanavar's choice was clear.  Inevitable miscarriage,  non viable pregnancy,  rape.  Across the world a woman has the right to choose in these circumstances at least.  And if a woman cannot choose in such circumstances she is a chattel,  little more.

You carry a child  in your body conciously, intelligently, deliberately.  There could be no good outcome if you did not. The collorary of this is that YOU choose. Only women choose. The choice is the business of  the one who bears the burden.  But  we,  the irish,   we say not. We say it's a catholic thing, a  legal thing,  it's anything but a woman thing.  And now we are exposed, blinking up  into the  harsh light of day, wishing only that the murky boulder be replaced.

And then there IS the legal thng, the position we claim. What is that exactly? Oh yeah, the DOCTOR has the right to choose. The doctor  brings the woman down to the wire, up against it,  to the very brink,  her life in the balance, and chooses.  A fine calculation that.  We know that some medics will go in and terminate if there is ANY risk to life,  and some will obey the law's letter,  having interpreted it. Cautiously. The law's an ass so watch your ass. We are the Doctors.

And oh you think if you were in Mrs Haloppanavar's  position you might well regret not having stayed at home in your own bed, where at least you would  have been spared the weasel words while the  deathly sepsis gained purchase in your life's blood. And afterwards your husband spared the torment of an inquest where the  midwife,  the nurse,   describe your chattering teeth,  your shivering fever,  the  clear evidence of your septic abortion, all charted, never acted upon.  Because.  Oh listen as the doctors say they did not hear, they never read, they did not know, they were not told.  Oh no.  A systems  failure then.  And marvel as the doctors duck and dive behind the dangerous law they do not seek to change.

"All you are permitted to do is wait"  Doctor Peter Boylan said, "for sepsis. Then you can. Act." That is entirely a matter of interpretation, I say, and  if it were true ,  it would be  an iniquitous thing accepted in a passive and shameful fashion by doctors,  who DO choose.  If Mrs Halappanavar was given the procedure that she asked for, when she asked for it, she  would be alive today planning her next pregnancy having laid her daughter to rest. That was her choice. What happened in the event is ours. We are the people.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Barefooted Hero. Seductive sweet.

"But. No. ..you paid money for this stuff.  Why should we leave it here"  my husband flings shampoo, various lotions, my new green tea perfume into his bag as he speaks.  "Yes, but, darling, I will feel like a quasi criminal at security. No liquids, you know".  "Huh. It's SHAMPOO. And I'm putting your perfume in my spare shoes"??? ".Um right,  if you think so, "  I offer into his mutterings about waste, idiotic rules having spawned an industry to apply, causing massive irritation and inconvenience, and  being besides,   useless, pointless, AND  ineffective as a preventative measure, etcetera etcetera etcetera. I wonder if the divine sun's heat  has gone to his dear head.

 Later I balance on one leg replacing shoes, belt, dignity even, and wonder where he is. I notice that my socks are mismatched just as  he bounces over flushed, triumphant.  "Yea,  yea, stopped, my bag lit up like a  starry night,  interviewed by the head man, so yeah, shampoo gone, sorry, BUT perfume salvaged".  "How?" " Just did. There was an exchange mano a mano, him and me, said it was the wife's, said other stuff, he got it" . Hmmm. I look back at a young girl, pink faced  as she is barked at to remove her pretty boots, the back up of edgy sweating travellers behind her. I think of how hard it is to hold your ground on the planet  without your shoes.  I grab my hero tight to myself and we make for the plane.

The same sun shines the whole way home in the airport bus, brilliant,  clear,  fifteen degrees colder. It will be gone, our week, in a flash, he told me seven days before, as the bus  rumbled the other way at dawn. "Shut up ",  I say "not the point, but to have it, suck it dry, eat it whole.

And now we are fat with it. Bursting. The citrus infused,  seductive sweet smell of the orange blossoms; the warmth seeping into our chilly northern  bones; the soundtrack of  birdsong piercing, poignant; the  kindness of  swaying  sheltering trees.; the  food eaten out of doors,  post prandial  sherries in an  impossibly exotic old world wine bar; my weeping helpless, surrendered by the walls of the Alcazar after a falling out as to  its whereabouts, his white pained  face as appalled as mine;  lying in the hotel room listening to the rain slapping on the tiled court yard, mindless, entangled; the smell of the orange blossoms the smell of the orange blossoms the smell of the orange blossoms.