Thursday, 4 December 2014

Avoiding Solutions

Believe it or not, this post is sort of about herbalism!  But only sort of, naturally.

Audrey Niffenegger is best known as the author of 'The Time Traveler's Wife', a book whose plot is irritatingly similar to that of Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five', but of course because Vonnegut is a mere science fiction author, he doesn't count even though he published it in 1962 and Niffenegger didn't publish her novel until 2003.  This is because literary fiction is not a genre, oh no, I mean how could it be?  After all it's read by real people rather than nerds.

Obviously there are about to be spoilers but this is literary fiction, which is essentially unspoilable.

Leaving that aside though, she did write a rather less annoying book called 'Her Fearful Symmetry', which I may have mentioned before.  It's an enjoyable read and also an interesting one, though somewhat nerdy about Highgate Cemetery and I feel the clothing choices of the central character(s) would be rather impractical because of their ghostly colour (aha!).  One thing which really sticks in my mind about it is the germ-phobic character, who at one point points out that part of his condition is not wanting treatment for his condition.  In his view, if he was treated he would become unhygienic, suffer an infection and die.  This applies more widely of course, and in order not to annoy people, I will start by referring to myself, which come to think of it is annoying in a different way, but anyway:  I didn't want treatment for my condition, because that was part of the condition.  My idiosyncrasies, and I am aware that many of them are still in place, felt like part of my identity although they seem now to have been coping mechanisms.  Incidentally, there is one piece of clothing neuroticism left - I still don't like tops with fastenings that only go part of the way down.  That seems to be all though.  I don't know why that's still in place.

Extending this, I need now to be careful not to turn into Oliver Sacks and plunder confidential notes for interesting stories, but I can be more general and offer a couple of slightly altered examples.  A patient has a recurring acute condition.  I look at her lifestyle and am dismayed, as I often am, that she seems to be doing everything right.  Then I question her further and find there is one thing she isn't doing right:  she is a habitual user of aspartame.  Aspartame is the compound which almost laid me out in 2004.  Nor is this junk science.  Nonetheless she was very keen on making any changes other than that single change which I believe would have eliminated her condition.  She didn't even want to switch to saccharin.  Therefore her condition persisted, although I was able to help her a bit.  At no point did she seem fully conscious that that was the culprit, which is particularly interesting.  I did tell her what I thought was going on.

Another situation:  a patient has a fairly serious physical condition with major affective components - she is depressed and anxious.  Small measures which would probably relieve it are avoided.  Also, every herbal remedy she is prescribed leads to an adverse reaction even when the remedies involved are also ingested in the same or higher doses as culinary herbs in her regular diet.

These examples have been altered in insignificant ways to protect the innocent of course.  I needn't do the same for myself.  As I was writing my "autobiography" (yes, it is that colour because of the ink running out on the printer), I realised I've been doing this all my life.  I still have no idea if the clinic is going to take me seriously or agree with me, but that in itself is a valuable insight.

Sometimes people will do almost anything rather than get well, and I am sometimes people.