Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Accident & Emergency

Old Couple, Togan Gokbakar

If your heart stops, do you want to be resuscitated?

The words in the space where my mouth should be
are sewn in with fragile thread, denial embroiders truth,
words unsaid are silent; I shall not talk of it.

If I had known it would be like this,
I would not have gathered history in my bones,
content perhaps to say No! at first onslaught on my breath
as life-congested lungs binding death to concave chest
breathed life again. 

Do you want CPR if your heart should stop?
(I would not talk of it). 

They chant the mantra of abstinence,
abstinence equals good health or all in moderation
as if longevity will somehow become the nation’s wealth.
Value spent, I am old now, three score years and ten,
wit keen, mind still sharp, I hide behind skin leathered,
cracked by toil and sun, back bent crooked, laid heavy
with the burden of my years.  

He must be deaf. 

I gathered darkness in my days, sucked down beneath the depths
as each breath issued exquisite pain, brain wracked with black,
black dog dogged; death now circling overhead, spirit broken,
he drones inside my head

If your heart stops,
do you want to be resuscitated?

Care cradle to grave avowed, who will save me now
as I drown ‘neath fluid filling well-ripened lungs;
to old to hold significance, a burden on the state, expendable. 

He must be deaf! 

Lips unsewn, weary of it all, angry irritated,
just to annoy the callous bastard
I whisper Yes.

Anna :o]

The Health Police would have us abstain from doing anything remotely enjoyable to enable us to bounce high with rude health and live forever and ever and ever.  It is now deemed okay to stigmatise and dehumanise smokers and the obese –who’s next I wonder - and how much we enjoy this government sponsored lark of well-deserved ridicule and openness of contempt of those whose habits offend our own self-righteousness.   We must be healthy at all costs.  We must fit the new mould.

Problem is that if we eat sensibly, drink not at all – or at least in moderation - and don’t smoke – we will not become a disease free society, disease will be with us forever.

True, we might live longer – but hey, don’t we have a problem coping with an aging population now?   They are considered a burden, right?  What are we going to do with all those extra old folk of who many will succumb to disease of the body, and damn it the older they get will become diseased of the mind too?

The state is already creaking under the burden of these pensionable folk and to fill the dwindling pot of gold, some of us will be required to work until the tender age of sixty-eight.  Yet, as general hospitals are too creaking under the strain of a large elderly patient population, two thirds of beds being filled by the over sixty-fives and three fifths of these suffering from a mental disorder (80% depression, dementia & delirium) – efforts are being made to ‘treat’ these would-be inpatients in the community…so you will work until sixty-eight – but not be welcome in hospital if over sixty-five...especially if you have a mental disorder…

A ?large proportion of these over sixty-fives are regarded as ‘bed-blockers’ as it is not felt safe that they should return home from whence they came – so provision has to be made for social care – which is a lengthy process as social services have a tight budget too.  What I don’t get is that if it is not felt safe that they return home – how would they be safe if treated nursed (at home) in the community instead – or am I missing something?

So there is much packaging of the pleasures of death with all wonderful agencies sprouting up here there and everywhere to help the elderly on their way…

Mental (ill)health is much stigmatised and so increasingly are the elderly.   Old with mental health problems, hospitalised – what a bummer.  Your ‘care’ will leave much to be desired…  

You only have one life - enjoy it to the full.

mindlovemisery has us writing of stigma, Brenda at The Sunday Whirl gives us the words: space, mouth, circling, vow, drone, sun, broken, cave, crook, chants, first, binding to play with and Tess at The Mag gives us the pic.


Anonymous said...

WOW! I am blown away your writing is beyond words! That opening my god your talent astounds me. What an inspiration you are to me in my whole life I won't produce anything this beautifully written. LOVE!!!!

kaykuala said...

Fantastic write, Anna! Takes some time to read and more time to absorb! Takes lots of talents and thinking in coming to this. Great!


Brian Miller said...

dang anna...you really capture the character not only of him but 'them' as well in this...the them we will all become in some sense...wonderful write...and facing my own mortality i wonder how i would respond...the mumbled yes at the end is powerful as i was wondering if you might go the other, creating the great escape in death....great piece...

Kutamun said...

You are right , Hyper,tis all very machine like, and now the machine even wants us to turn ourselves into machines, ASaP. I am so pleased you have made the jump back from light speed to join us in this quiet neck of the galaxy for a while. Cheers

AJ Neugebauer said...

My goodness, this is brilliance!!! I do not remember the last time I read something that so affected me! I had to slow down and reread it again. What poignancy and originality! Loved it! (If you couldn't tell...)

Friko said...

Do you have a solution to the problem?
We are all aware of it and those of us who are already at the pension end of society foresee nothing but that it gets worse.

On my frequent in-patient visits I see all these old, mentally ill people, whose quality of life is nil. What to do with them?

Getting old is not the problem, being old and ill certainly is.

What would you do? What do health professionals actually see as a way forward?

I am quite serious.

Helen said...

The poetry boggled my mind .. the message chilling! I'm just thankful I was there for my mother (every day)as she lived out the last five years of her life ~~ with dementia.

Berowne said...

A stimulating, challenging post...

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

This is so intensely emotional. Well done!

Bar None Publishing Group said...

This gave me chills Anna. A definite pause for thought.
Mark Butkus

~T~ said...

Very expressive poem.

Kathe W. said...

amen to that! If we take care of ourselves, live and love well we may well be asked to "step aside for others" when we have lived beyond our usefulness...1984 here we come.

anthonynorth said...

Perfectly done. We say we have freedom today, yet it seems to me, nothing takes away freedom more than the idea you've got it. And the subtle methods of control today - such as the health police - can be malign.

annell said...

Wonderfully written, thoughtful....with just a little laugh or two.

Arron Shilling said...

disease will be with us forever . . . try to shake it as we might. you are on the button as-ever anna. deliver the character direct.

brenda w said...

Great work, Anna. I appreciate your character's depth. Your afterthoughts are fantastic. Thanks for writing with us at the Whirl. It's nice to see you here.

Bon said...

If I had known it would be like this I would not have gathered history in my bones/
I really like this line and I like the way you play between the actual question and the dialogue inside, nice ekphrastic poem.

Anonymous said...

Here to enjoy your thought-provoking work again, Anna.Thank you.

I wonder if we could ever be free? The systems we adhere to bind us, our love affair with media binds us, disease and the need for care, life, then death ...and if we untie ourselves, we, not our bonds, are considered broken.

flaubert said...

Anna, first might I say that I am overjoyed to come here and read your poem and the process notes. Thank you for leading me here. I would also like to add this is fabulous and I wish I had written it:

"Care cradle to grave avowed, who will save me now
as I drown ‘neath fluid filling well-ripened lungs;
to old to hold significance, a burden on the state, expendable."


Stephen said...

Hi Anna,

I'm Stephen and I am thinking of writing an essay on the ethics on DNR for an assignment at medical school. Is it alright if I used your poem as a preface?


hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind and welcome comments folks.

Friko ~ sorry I don’t have a solution and I wonder if any health professional has. The new thinking of treating the over sixty-fives in the community is ?fine in theory – but impractical as there is not the machinery available for it to function effectively. Of course it is not ‘fine’ as our elderly population has as much right to be treated in hospital as does the rest of the general public.

I think some of the problem of the ‘elderly’ being hospitalised inappropriately is the need to ‘watch one’s back’ and how so much we have to do this as our governing bodies are eager to make examples of us should we practice autonomy. CPR must be given if a ninety-five year old dies a natural death – oh how I hate this for it is an assault on the dead. If we don’t do this it is highly probable we will lose our registration.

Prior to 111 – calling out of hours had become a precarious business due to the need of GPs to watch their backs also. Some would suggest (via the telephone) blue light as opposed to a home visit – to cover their backs, patients visited, who at one time would be (appropriately) prescribed tender loving care would be hospitalised – to cover the docs backs. (Tender loving care – it would appear – is no longer permissible – each patient requiring the tick box LCP.)

Since 111 – a disaster. The longest it took a doc to phone back has been eleven hours – and no blame is laid at the door of the docs here – 111 operates at dangerous staffing levels, with call handlers following algorithms at all cost and will not deviate from same – but the understanding of the algorithm is not there. It is an inefficient and dangerous ‘service.’ And as a result more folk end up at A&E – and if elderly are more than likely to be admitted – for even just a day – as the need to cover backs is paramount.

The DNR poem is based on what our more able residents are likely to receive in A&E – ‘the question’ callously asked as ‘they’ are old with mental health problems – so not given respect.

I could rant on of state plundered pension pots, the health police and so much more – but will end here stating that the elderly are indeed stigmatised...

Stephen ~ I would be honoured. Thank you.

Anna :o]

Lolamouse said...

Seems as though healthcare everywhere is in a state of crisis. Your poem illustrates this reality in a way that lets us relate emotionally. Well done.

Claudia said...

heck anna...a powerful write on a delicate topic.. i wonder where our health politics will lead us one day...love how you capture the man...cool close with the yes as well

Anonymous said...

The new prompt is up Anna if you are interested I would love love to have you =)

Jenny Woolf said...

An amazing poem, Anna. Weren't there some diseases that used to be called "the old man's friend" in days gone by?