Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Fallout Zone

You cannot, as you know, harm a dead body. The concept makes no sense, and experiment confirms the impossibility. One of the dead lies before you, preserved, let us say, in formalin, in a cold room.

You stab it, it does not bleed.

You poison it, it does not die.

You dissect along the course of the radial nerve, they do not cry out.

The dead, from this point of view, are to be envied. Sleeping peacefully, free from disease or troubling thoughts, no longer driven here and there by fear and rage and loneliness.

And why bring this up, you ask, meanwhile revising your opinion of the efficacy of the more commonly prescribed psychotropic medications?

Well, in the light of a few cases I've seen of late I've been doing the algebra... and I've worked out something a little odd.

A few of my cases lately have involved death. The "two thousand sexual partners and counting" guy with HIV - somewhat worse. Another HIV positive client, a red-headed woman in her fifties who changed her name to Goddesss (three esses) and whose life story both beggars and buggers description - she died last week. And another recounting to the police of the story of Mrs Cesious.

Anyway, as in all cases of death, the patient is no longer the focus of your caring. The patients, in the sense of the ones who bear or suffer, are the relatives, the partners and the friends. You see them, arrayed in concentric circles, damaged in proportion to their closeness to ground zero.

You see them, sometimes just once, in the case of a road trauma, sometimes week after week, time after time, as a loved one dies by degrees.

Pale from another's loss of blood.

Thin from another person's cancer.

Sleepless and wan from another person's pain.

This is what I have explained with the aid of algebra, the thing I have worked out late at night.

The statement "You cannot harm a dead body" is equivalent to the statement "Pain cannot exist in a dead body". Pain evidently, assuredly, demonstrably exists in a warm, feeling, alive body, but just as demonstrably is absent, vanished, gone from a dead body. Mathematically, it is absurd to say that it merely ceases to be.

Where does it go? Where does that pain, that suffering, that misery go to? That shortness of breath, that loss of appetite, that heaviness in the chest? That pale face, cold belly, shaking hands?

It is my contention that there is an algebraic sum involved. There is a law of conservation of pain, that wounds and disease and damage follow laws as ineluctable as those governing mass, charge and momentum. That disease/damage/pain does not leave the dead but is taken up by those left behind them, and only gradually dispersed.

By this logic, counting back, I have seen one man's heroin overdose kill, so far, three people, and I suspect it will kill a fourth. An eldest son drives a car off the road, kills himself, three years later that same car crash kills his mother. Stretching the idea further - and that's all it is, an idea - a grandfather's untreated depression becomes a father's violent alcoholism and a son's HIV.

Anyway. Tonight I will reply to comments and post something on the social awkwardness of erotic dreams.

Thanks for listening,


Post a Comment

<< Home