In the space of a week I have had the dubious pleasure of seeing two consultant cardiologists in two different hospitals. In one case I wished that I had had some kind of lethal weapon with me. Or had been taught to kill just using a biro and some lip salve. Bond et al would have known how to do it quickly and efficiently. (His companion would have offered no resistance after his mentor had been so dispatched.) Sadly I was unable to act out my fantasy-which may have been a good thing. I’m still ambivalent on this point. What made me so angry was his attitude. I offered some opinions about my health and suggested that some of my symptoms were probably side effects of some of my medication. “How do you know that?” “Well, I researched the drugs on the web. And read the information sheet that comes with them. These suggest that what I have are side effects.”
“Everything can be found on the Internet these days.” was the response.
I felt like a five-year old who has said something clever in class but who has been firmly put in his place by the teacher and told not to be clever again. The Consultant then proceeded to outline the treatment programme he planned for my heart, which would happen next week. that said the “conversation” was finished and I was dismissed. (Sadly this only repeated my previous experience as an in-patient at Papworth. It felt that everyone looking after me would have been happier if my heart could be nursed apart from the rest of me. Then the surgeons could do their clever technical stuff without me getting in the way.)
My next encounter was in a local cardiac unit. Full marks to the team for being fun, human and interested in me as a whole person and not just a cardiac case. Even the Consultant was reasonably human-to a point. He had his regime in mind and was not going to be deflected from it. When I refused to take a drug he wanted me to have, he was not happy. But conceded that I could make this choice. Again I felt reduced to the level of a five-year old being told “Don’t argue. Daddy knows best.” (He might. I acknowledge his skill. But it is still my body. I have to suffer the side effects, not him. And I will not be railroaded into a course of action that feels damaging.)
The psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion said of Desires: The psychoanalyst can start by avoiding… Desires for results, `cure’ or even understanding must not be allowed to proliferate.” I will take this idea further in the next blog.