Six years ago I was emerging slowly from the fog and anxiety of the darkest of drug trips. A cocktail of morphine and other mind-boggling medications had my brain doing loop the loop, cartwheels and the splits, all at the same time.
But it took the pain away and bought my body time to edge back to life.
People were kneeling in a line in the corridor outside my intensive care cubicle. The white walls tilted and pulsed like kneaded dough. Abstract shapes, sometimes grotesque, faded in and out. An unseen child kept squealing and slamming doors. It was shocking, a hell of a ride, and it lasted for days. I lost it at one point, apparently, disengaging from all the pipes and monitors and adding to my challenges by crashing to the floor and injuring my head, legs and arms.
Without the expert wisdom, patience and dedication of extraordinary people I would not be here. Yes you, Conxi, and all the team who fed a tube from my arm into my heart, who talked to me constantly, honestly, positively, who propped me up when I finally tried to find my feet again and take steps. As all with hearts, I worry deeply about what you and all the selfless health professions have been facing through the past 15 months, and miss that I cannot come to the hospital as I have occasionally done and give you another hug.
Learning to walk again, each centimetre back to consciousness, takes the questioning mind onto an even more intense, honest journey. Every minute is a blessing and demands promises to self, a re-commitment to truth: To be as kind as I can be, and that means being honest.
Since then I have not seen people kneeling (they were chairs, by the way) or heard voices, but my mind wrestles constantly with a deepening anxiety. The frail fabric of existence and the human condition – thinking we know when we don’t, and our dire propensity to divorce ourselves from core responsibilities and the matrix of all life – brings me back to that cubicle and the expert examples of those who cared for me.
The ongoing global dose of mortality defines something fundamental. It brings us back to Earth.
Enough, then, of cheap talk, incitement, sound-bites and the puffed-up, unqualified alternative facts spouted by power-crazed egotists.
Entrust, heed and acknowledge those who dedicate themselves to the complex study and application of acquired intelligence to sustaining life; our pandemic-traumatised species, yes, but also all life, not least our home, this delicate planet.
But that is nothing, NOTHING, if we persist in entrusting power to people who fail to do likewise.
Reason is a blessing. We all have it, weaved with conscience, from birth. Suddenly it is not so difficult to figure. As we try and come to terms with the Covid shock the answer to the world’s considerable plight is in plain sight. It is hard earned and its value had been dropping fast... until now.