Friday, 19 July 2013

Wind instruments and their players

The case of Mr Snowden is a conundrum. He is described as a whistleblower and he has undoubtedly blown the whistle on practices which have shocked the naive. I should say that it hasn't shocked me in the least since I've always believed that long-winded program updates have hidden automatic reporting tools.

The whole definition is a problem, I cite just one such definition: "One who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority."

It's the wrongdoing that presents the challenge. What is wrongdoing? Who decides? Is it something that's generally accepted as wrong by society in general, or is it a specific wrong which is contrary to the organisation's mission, its reason to be or its code of conduct? And when is it wrong? At what point is it right to move from loyalty to an organisation, where you might report the shortcomings and seek to change the outcomes from within, into blowing the whistle?

I offer no answers only the opportunity for the reader to ponder the matter and come to their own decision.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Dear Doctor

My six monthly blood test came round a couple of weeks ago and I duly attended the GP's surgery where a very nice young phlebotomist, looking at my notes, said: "We haven't done the standard tests for you for quite a long time, so shall I do them too?

It was most a statement of intent rather than a question and as she said it a fleeting thought passed my consciousness. A blood test first thing the morning after a five course meal, with a rather fine wine, wasn't a very good idea. But I didn't object. I merely told her that she could test my cholestrol if she wanted, but as I would never submit to poison by statins, there was no point.

That morning of the blood test I have to admit I hadn't felt awfully well. It was difficult to put my finger on it but I described it to someone at the time as a "food hangover". I could tell that my digestive tract and indeed my entire body was not well pleased with what I had injested the evening before. I should say in mitigation that much of it - the artichokes, the bread, some of the potatoes, the mangetout - were either home grown or home cooked, so organic and entirely wholesome. No, it's wasn't the food itself that was the problem, but rather the quantity of the injestion. I awoke with a fuzzy feeling in my head, a lethargy and a definite resolve not to overdo it again.

Remember, since my-body-is-a-temple diet which I assumed during chemo, I've drunk little alcohol, and I resort to puddings, cakes or biscuits only on special occasions. I try to avoid suger altogether. So the desert course which I'd prepared, consisting predominantly of sugar and cream - and of which I'd sampled a goodly portion - must have been an incredible shock to my pancreas and my poor old liver quite rightly was reeling from unaccustomed processing of alcohol and other excess substances. The results of the blood test were therefore predictable.

I always ring for results because I like to chart the readings on my own records so that I can see if things are as they always are or departing from the norm. I figure that my norm is not necessarily other people's. I scored well for T4 and TSH - very reassuring - and also for haemoglobin which delighted me because I'd wondered if, after chemo, I'd ever get it up to a decent score again. But liver function and glucose? The receptionist said they were going to write me a letter because I was "borderline". "Borderline" is a very interesting word. It conjures up all sorts of thoughts. I like to take borderline to be a warning. "Don't step over this mark", "Mind the gap" - that sort of warning. And of course I'm not surprised that I'm borderline because I felt distinctly right over the border and on enemy territory that morning after the night before.

I duly booked a telephone call with my GP, who tried to ring but I missed his call. He then went on holiday, leaving me with wondering how to get this black mark removed from my records; well not removed, but neutralised. Having to explain the whole thing to another GP seems a bit daft, so instead I have written a nice letter explaining the five course meal, documenting the very good wine and the quality of the food and thereby explaining the over-indulgence. I've asked that - if he thinks my explanation adequately explains the "borderline" - he lets me off on the promise of good behaviour which is extremely likely because I've got to get into my mother-of-the-bride outfit in a mere six weeks.