I went home and sat down. Evidently I wasn’t very well. In just a few minutes I’d aged 20 years. I wondered if my funeral would be before or after the Ashes series was over.
I went to bed.
I want to talk about “iatrogenics”. The term was unfamiliar to me before reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of ‘The Black Swan’ and ‘Antifragile’). From the Greek "brought forth by the healer" it refers to any effect on a person resulting from a Doctor’s treatment which rather than being helpful has the opposite effect.
I’d felt less well immediately…as though I’d been poisoned. Later on I recalled completing a form on my alcohol consumption from the NHS. I’d said it was on average 24 units a week. I then got a text asking if I needed to discuss reducing my consumption levels. It made me feel like an inebriate. (Stop looking at me like that! Anyway I’m off to New Zealand.)
Melissa Kite the journalist wrote recently about being denied HRT patches because of NHS guidelines about its dangers (allegedly small). Eventually in despair and not sleeping, she snarled at her Doctor: “Give them to me I’m a danger to the public otherwise”.
Is the NHS is ignoring the simple strategy of encouraging people to feel well? Better surely to have a slightly shorter, happier life than live to be an old valetudinarian.
Stanley Holloway was renowned for his monologues like “My word you do look queer” about a guy who recovering from being ill is told by everyone how dreadful he looks. It has immortal lines like
“Oh, dear! You look dreadful: you've had a near shave,
You look like a man with one foot in the grave…….
I heard you were bad, well I heard you were gone.
You look like a corpse with an overcoat on.”
Eventually someone says ….
“You're looking fine and in the pink!'
I shouted, 'Am I? ... Come and have a drink!”
So is the NHS spending too much time worrying about tactics and changing the rules (what for instance, is the “5 a day” Campaign but an invention by the Californian Fruit Marketing Company?) rather than improving morale?
Let’s relax a bit more… overall we’ve never been healthier…
“Are we really?”
“Come and have a drink.”
And let’s beware of iatrogenics.