Infinite Musings

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it. Edward R. Murrow

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Diagnostic Conundrum

I've been called a lot of things over the years, the less pleasant epithets usually coming from lawyers, but hey I can give as good as I get on that score. Right now, however, I'm struggling to come to terms with a new moniker, "diagnostic conundrum". As the academic year quickly draws to a close and the days left to finish work decrease in an inverse ratio to the work yet to be completed I find myself stuck at home reflecting on how quickly and without warning everything can change. From the simplest things like getting out of bed, and putting on socks. How did these suddenly become milestones for which I can pat myself on the back? How in less than two weeks have I gone from good health to barely able to walk? And why can't the doctor tell me what's wrong? "You have very low iron", he said as he wrote up the order for another nine vials of blood to be removed from my vein. "Your "sed" rate is elevated", he continued, "indicating inflammation." Well that's news! Who would have guessed about the inflammation looking at my ankle which is more swollen than when I broke it years ago, or my knees usually the kind of knobby knees you don't want knocking yours on a dance floor. Now they look like smurf footballs and they don't bend anymore. My elbows, on the other hand, are bent and won't unbend. Anything else you can add, I ask plaintively? I tend to avoid doctors. Nothing against them...but when I do have to see them, I guess, foolishly, I expect them to have answers. This doctor is jovial. A nice man really. But all he can saw, with a broad smile, is "you are a diagnostic conundrum". He writes me a prescription for new drugs scarier than the last. Take for a maximum of five days the pharmaceutical company's website warns. That doesn't deter the doctor. "I've given you two refills on this prescription," he says. And that is that. And now, I wait. I try to keep up with assignments. I think about the wonderful colleagues--yes I do consider them colleagues!--I've been honoured to share the program with. I reflect on how much I've learned about history, about London, about technology, life and friendship, identity and nostalgia and aging the past year after landing bemused and displaced from the Hague and THAT trial. I'm trying to maintain my sense of humour, and learn from this experience as well. Please keep your fingers crossed that I come out the other end kicking a football rather than resembling one.