Some thoughts from “A” first published on 27th March 2020, the day after the UK (including us) offered applause as thanks to the NHS staff and carers.
This post may ramble a bit. It may get amended with time. But I hope its message will always be clear. I am immensely grateful to a people and country that cares about me and those like me and has looked after me for many years. I write during the 2020 Coronavirus crisis and at what is just the start of my own period of “shielding”, but my gratitude spans the decades of care that has kept me alive and allowed me to live and achieve many things.
It would be wrong to bore readers with all the details of the things the UK’s National Health Service has done for me, even if I could remember them all. Suffice to say that – from what my parents later told me – it started with complications at birth. It went on with investigation and – so far as possible – treatment of eyesight, kidney disease (and associated complications), hearing, chest and breathing and mental problems. For the moment, I’ll say just a little more about the treatment of the kidney disease.
The short story is that for most of the 1970s (when I was in my 20s) I became progressively more ill and for several years was on kidney dialysis that did not really work well (the science has improved a great deal since them). In 1979 I received a transplant that proved successful. Yes, that is now a little over 40 years ago.
The best medical opinion was that without the transplant I would have died within a few months. As it is, I gradually recovered, found a new job, was able to move out of my parents’ house and, later to London, work for over 20 years as a lawyer in the civil service, develop spare time interests and – above all – marry a wonderful woman (“M”).
But that came to an end. There were other problems at work but even without them I am now well past retirement age. It would be easy to say I contribute little to society. The only tax I pay is on a pension that comes from other taxpayers to start with. My only contribution to others is (I hope) to amuse with the photographs I take and to give a little work to a few models.
Having worked in the UK civil service for so long, it is no secret to me that staff in the relevant government department are fully conscious that the best financial contribution I can make the economy is to die quietly at home. But I am looked after conscientiously by more than one hard working team of NHS doctors and other staff.
This is not the time to enter into political discussion of either different healthcare systems or different national political leaderships and their approach to the current coronavirus situation. That time will come – and I have my views – but it is not now. I know there is a view that the world would get through the current pandemic sooner and with less disruption if the virus was allowed to run its course. The population would acquire some sort of immunity and most of the deaths would be of people who were older and/or already sick who might be expected to die of something else soon anyway. I have heard of older people who have endorsed that view knowing its consequence for themselves but thinking of future generations. I make no comment myself. I don’t need to. It seems societies as a whole have overwhelmingly rejected it. This may not be good economics. I can only think it is humanity.
So I return to thanking all those good, decent, caring people who are demonstrating their humanity at this difficult time – whether to me personally or to others who need help.
- Thank you to all the friends and neighbours who have offered help, As time passes, we will probably take up some of those offers.
- Thank you to everyone who has been in touch asking how we are managing. Frankly, we think we are better off than many. We have a house big enough to let me have a separate bedroom and bathroom and we have a garden I can sit in when the weather is fine. We are not dependent on income from a job or business that has disappeared. I appreciate every contact and especially during this time of isolation.
- Thank you to all those doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who have looked after me for so many years and have seen me through the changes in my condition: the stress-related illnesses, the complication of bones and hearing, the still emerging chest and breathing problems.
- Thank you to all the people who offer to care for me and others, including that amazing crowd of volunteers who have signed up to the latest UK scheme. I may end up needing your help, but for now I hope it can be safely directed to those in greatest need.
- Thank you to a world that is willing to put aside the cold logic of economics. Thank you for being human.
– End –