Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The kindness of women

This is the name of the novel I am reading at the moment, and I highly recommend it (as a novel - I *hate* the protagonist though), though you need to read Empire of the Sun first.

But it's more than just that. I wrote recently that I am glad that some of my best friends are men, and I am. I like men a lot. Wouldn't like to be one, but I wouldn't be without them. You know where you are with men, on the whole. You may not like where you are, but at least you know.

Having said that (and notwithstanding the support of my boyfriend) -- like JG Ballard, I would be nowhere these last few weeks without the kindness of women. They have listened, they have reflected, they have told me things I haven't always wanted to hear but which I needed to hear.

They have reassured me that the bad stuff is not about me, and given me examples from their own lives to help me believe this. They have brought me tea, chocolate and wine. They have said they will help me deal with it. I believe them.

And while it was a male surgeon who saved C's life, putting his bowel back in its bowel place and his heart back in its heart place, it is the female nurses who are keeping him alive now. They are decanting his bile, his blood and his piss, monitoring his heartbeat, and moving him in a straight line so his fractured ribs, spine and pelvis stay aligned.

We went to see him today, and tried to make conversation through our own shock and the fug of his morphine. There are no visitors' chairs in the cardio-thoracic critical care ward (and no flowers, and no cards), and you have to sanitise your hands before you go in two by two (M and I went with ex-housemate S and got a special dispensation from C himself).

We didn't stay long -- too may tubes to stand on, too much obvious effort on C's part to make conversation from a place where he can't really see, he can't really hear and he can't really talk. I was silently marvelling at the level of technology around him, when that was blown out of the water by the level of care: the nurse who had buzzed us in came to ask him when he usually has his first cigarette of the day so they can gauge when to apply a nicotine patch to his tiny broken body.

"Don't tell my mum I smoke," he said through the sanitised humidified stuff they are pumping into his mask. It was ex-housemate S who made sure the nurse understood him.

He is 45. His mum is 90. The nurse assured us that his nicotine patch would be placed somewhere his mum wouldn't see it. She didn't even laugh.

Later I thought about James Brown and his man's world. I think he's wrong about that.



Blogger tatton said...

Also my Surgeon was a woman - Ms C and a damn fine job she did too. It doesn't look any different - just a couple of scars. What is interesting about this is that where P is training he spent a lot of time under a Mr L who generally takes the whole breast off for breast cancer. No matter what.

I think my experience has persuaded P to perhaps not be so ruthless. Hurrah for humanity (Men AND women - together).

9:43 am  
Blogger Lawrence and Rachel said...

So sorry to hear about this - S has been filling us in. Love and hugs (at some later point clearly) to Colin. Doesn't life just leap up and bite you on the arse sometimes? Makes the triviality of work seem just that.

5:34 pm  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your friend's accident- and very glad to hear he is getting the best possible care.

1:11 am  

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