28 March 2015

I suppose that if I wanted to I could write something smart alecky about the stuff that's been happening in my lungs. About last week's tests and the results and plan A and plan B. About the way the lung doctor got off his chair and walked around his desk and took my hand in both of his. It's funny how this happens quite a lot. In the early post-diagnosis days, it made me feel better. I thought it was a weird form of respect, of team work, compassion even. Now I am not so sure. Now I find it embarrassing. Tedious even. Now I know that my first question should not be, how bad?, but instead, how many patients with this disease have you treated so far? But I haven't reached that level of sophistication yet. I will have another go next time. This time, I almost wept when he said, I think we can prevent further damage. This is plan A and if it doesn't work, we try plan B.

I could write something about how angry I am and how I get mad at everything and how I pick on R and how I explode at the slightest bit of imagined criticism,  all the time knowing deep in my bones and cells that this is not the way to do it. 

Instead I want to write about arrogance. Arrogance and ignorance or maybe it's one and the same. Arrogance to mask ignorance.
I want to write about the arrogance of knowing. To think that we could actually know our bodies or worse, what is good for them or what is wrong with them.

I used to be so full of that shit. I have been told I had a hard time with the childhood illnesses and that I was not the sturdiest of my mother's three kids. I don't remember. What I do remember is feeling strong and healthy as a child, teenager and later when I was at uni. Especially during those years of sex and drugs and rock and roll, stacks of unwashed dishes, sleeping in a room with ashtrays overflowing, long before the muesli revolution. We walked like hippy kings and queens on this earth, our healthy bodies at our command.
Don't get me wrong,  I cherish all the memories.

The first crack appeared when I took this one step further into believing that a mother knows best while I thought all was well when my baby was seriously ill, oh arrogant ignorance. Believe me, I have been slowly climbing down from my moral high horse ever since. And yet, it is so easy and pleasant to feel arrogant about health. To think that we know our bodies and like a child before Xmas we want to believe that health comes with cranberries or kale or ginger or turmeric, "fresh" coconut water flown in from Sri Lanka, with yoga and seven hours of sleep and pure bottled water from Fiji or the French volcanic springs. The one magic ingredient, the one magic change in our sloppy life style and all will be well.

OK this is not fair. I admit that for a long time I, too, have been a tad fanatic about a healthy diet (ask my child) and regional organic produce. I still am. But whatever, my health is slipping through my fingers. My arrogant well educated well informed fingers and all I can do is pretend that I am in charge.


  1. After following the train of your thoughts while listening to your John Coltrane offering, I looked around and was astonished to come across this from Wikipedia which explained what I was feeling and hoping when I heard that music:

    "Coltrane's spiritual journey was interwoven with his investigation of world music. He believed not only in a universal musical structure which transcended ethnic distinctions, but in being able to harness the mystical language of music itself. Coltrane's study of Indian music led him to believe that certain sounds and scales could 'produce specific emotional meanings.'

    According to Coltrane, the goal of a musician was to understand these forces, control them, and elicit a response from the audience. Coltrane said: "I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I'd like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he'd be broke, I'd bring out a different song and immediately he'd receive all the money he needed."

    Sending love to you, Sabine, in this difficult time.

  2. We all like to think we're in charge, don't we? But none of us really are - not of the big things anyway. Not me, not you, not your doctor. A thought-provoking post; thank you for it.

  3. A good friend and I had a deep conversation a few nights ago about this. I'll show her this post and we'll continue ... danke, Sabine! And thank you 'am' for the fascinating info on Coltrane's thoughts on the mystical language of music.

  4. Life requires surrender. I am trying to learn this, but it's hard. Thank you for your sharing here. Love.

  5. Coltraine is a perfect and evocative accompaniment to all the complexities you are feeling... I wish there was something I could say that might bring an ounce of comfort. Know that your blog friends care!

  6. Thank you for this post, Sabine. You remind me that we are each alone in our bodies with their twirling galaxies of cells. Never really knowing what the hell is going on at any given moment. I wish we could make sense of it, heal ourselves, be well and as whole as our hearts have dreamed us.

  7. this music helps to accept a little more