Monday, 4 December 2006


Susan Sontag opens her luminous essay Illness as Metaphor by observing that “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”

For the past two years I have inhabited that other place. It’s not my intention to write at length, or frequently, about my disease – Angela does that so admirably in her site – but there are a few messages I’d like to pass back to those of you who still inhabit the sunnier side.

Chronic illness completely takes over your life. You don’t realise it at first – you expect that, as with previous episodes, your indisposition will pass and you will resume normal existence. My travails started with a persistent and exhausting chest infection which I only discovered, far too late, had been undiagnosed pneumonia. As a result, I spent about four months, on and off, as a hospital inpatient – including two or three weeks in intensive care – and am now a regular outpatient for ongoing observation, and if necessary further treatment, of this condition and also at another hospital for leukaemia, which was diagnosed while I was an in-patient.

The standard of medical care which has been lavished on me by my NHS consultants and their teams is superb and beyond praise. But it is the whole business of being an outpatient which I find increasingly tedious and burdensome. Fortunately, my two hospitals are close to one another, but in a distant part of London. So my visits to them involve lengthy journeys both ways by taxi [subsidised by London government, thank goodness] in addition to the time spent at hospital, which can be anything between two and three or more hours. Today, I had to visit both, and was out of the house for six hours, returning feeling pretty exhausted after having two blood samples taken and being given three injections.

What is irksome above all is the waiting. Patients do indeed have to be patient, and their partners or companions have to be even more patient. We have to arrive at least half an hour before my appointment time in order for me to give a blood sample, after which we wait, in company with many other patient patients and their supporters, for the doctors. They are usually running something like an hour late. That is not their fault and I do not blame them – I would far rather they were doing their job thoroughly and giving each patient adequate time, which they do, than that they were skimping and rushing to keep up with a timetable.

But it’s all pretty wearisome, and I shall have to go on enduring it for the rest of my life, so far as I can see. I hope that none of you ever find yourselves in similar situations.


zola said...

Well Anticant : I guess we are all in good company. So many of us on that same wagon.
So very many.
Did not even buy a ticket for the journey!
The ticket was already given I guess.

But fuck I had to work hard to get that ticket : why? Not sure.

anticant said...

Zola: how do you get to hospital in the north of Finland? Reindeer?

Anonymous said...

Grumpy, are you about to do Welsh jokes?.

anticant said...

Wouldn't that be racist? I don't want to be bitten by a sheep.

billstickers said...

One thing I don't believe in is illness. I don't get ill and I'm not going to EVER get ill. I have no citizenship in any dark side.

zola said...

Zola will not be "unwell today" either.

anticant said...

Don't tempt Providence, billstickers [you believe in that, don't you?]. Your prophetess is obviously Mrs Mary Baker Eddy.

billstickers said...

I make my own Providence. Everything is in the individual God given mind. As a man thinketh, so is he.

zola said...

Tell that to me reindeers

anticant said...

"One thing I don't believe in is illness. I don't get ill and I'm not going to EVER get ill. I have no citizenship in any dark side."

I really do find this offensive. If you mean it seriously, it is pathetic and purblind. If you mean it frivolously, it's insulting to all those who - like Angela, Zola and myself - are coping with the reality of chronic and progressive diseases on a day-to-day basis.

As for your not being a citizen of any dark side, I am coming to think of you as a citizen of a very dark side indeed.

zola said...

For me and me fucked up lungs I can only say

Oh that is better now until the next time.
I guess I must take the piss out of myself - illness is like that. It is a survival thing I think.

Rage, rage against the dying of the imps and the whimps and the banjo players.

billstickers said...

Oh, so you can believe and not believe what you want, but find offensive both what I believe and don't believe.

Who really is running the Inquisition these days?

I am perfectly serious. I believe illness to be a product of the individual mind. If you think you're ill, you are. Think differently and you'll be "cured".

I learned that from my Book also.

"Go and sin (think wrongly) no more", Jesus told those cured of illess and infirmity.

zola said...

Billsticks : good enough what you say.
It is just that sometimes when I need real wood for a real fire to be real warm in a real winter I find it very difficult.
I am ill with a chronic lung fuck-up that cannot be cured.
This is not a complaint nor is it any kind of moan. It is an illness that no thinking or related thinking will take away.
I still have fun and will.
But this illness stuff does change a life.
In the best case --- it is an adventure.
In the worst case ? Difficult.

billstickers said...

"It is an illness that no thinking or related thinking will take away."

According to you. Under my belief system, you wouldn't be the best person to consult on that score.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't sympathise with your plight. It's just that I believe your plight to be other that you think it is.

anticant said...

Oh no, mr stickers, you don't foist your beliefs on anybody, do you? Not 'arf! You come on this thread and have the chutzpah to deny my reality, Zola's reality, and Angela's reality, about our experiences of degenerative disease, and our daily lives - which you know NOTHING about - because of what you believe your dratted Book tells you. You really ARE a Christian Scientist, aren't you?

Andre Gide wrote: "The deeper the soul plunges into religious devotion, the more it loses all sense of reality, all need, all desire, all love for reality....The dazzling light of their faith blinds them to the surrounding world and to their own selves....I am amazed at the coils of falsehood in which devout persons take delight." I agree with him. And when you have the impudence to come here, with your arrogant false humility, and tell us all what we "should" believe about our illnesses, you nauseate me.

When I said you do inhabit the dark side, I meant it. If you have already read James Hogg's "The Intimate Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner", you might fathom what I mean. If you haven't, read it.


In any case, please keep out of my burrow from now on. I can't stand humbugs.

billstickers said...

Have I been banned from the burrow?!!!!

{turns and walks sadly off into the sunset, singing lowly}

Bright eyes {sob!}
Burning like fire
Bright eyes {waaaaah!}
How can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale? {wail!}
Bright eyes

{Oh! parting is so bittersweet!!!!}

anticant said...


What an odious person you are! Get real. Start practising that vaunted "faith" of yours. Find some empathy.

Your remarks to Zola and myself on this thread are the bloody limit.

You are no longer welcome here.

monopoliescommission said...

"An old-fashioned blogger called anticant
Said "I don't want bad temper or angry rant.
If your language is crude
Or you want to be rude
Steer clear of the burrow of anticant!"

Right then, what's all this now?

anticant said...

Who are you? Ernest the Policeman?

Merkin said...

Does that not have the lingering stench of Gollumb?
Fresh from his atrocity on Pikey's.

anticant said...


Can you guide me to the thread? That Labyrinth of Pike's is SO confusing.

anticant said...


Oh, don't bother. I've found it now.

What a twat! He doesn't "believe" in illness, but he does believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He's got 50p to donate to a medical charity [how generous!], but he can't find a "deserving" one because he doesn't believe in illness.

He's very sick, isn't he?