The risk of taking no risk.

Feel a little guilty as yesterday’s blog was the shortest and flimsiest yet, but I did feel particularly crap. It wasn’t just fatigue but also the reality of what is happening to me, the fact I have cancer and the not so much ‘side as full frontal effects of treatment’. There is such a difference between hearing, reading and talking about what might happen, frightening though that can be, and the actualite of pain and  discomfort and it’s miserable allies fear, vulnerability and weakness. This is what I think really hit me yesterday. Being in this crabby state, separated from my previous ‘normality’, intensifies the scary vulnerability.

In my previous life I considered myself more than averagely aware and sensitive (arrogant fuck that I was), I’m now rapidly learning that I didn’t know nothing. Being male, white, lower middle class, educated, healthy and fit, is an undeservedly privileged position to be in.

11 treatments gone, 1/3, 33%, but who’s counting?

Nurse asked me today if I was using aqueous cream on my neck, I said no and that I was putting on aloe vera, raw and virgin coconut oil, niaouli oil and if skin gets bad honey. She looked at me with some alarm, told her I’d discussed this with my consultant and he’d said OK. Her colleague smiled at me and suggested I was a guinea pig, I laughed and said I’d keep them updated. This nicely highlights some of the themes I’ve been attempting to develop in this blog, namely the one on einstellung and risk related stuff.

Aware of the possibility of boringly repeating myself I graduated last year with an MPhil; my question was ‘What Does Risk Look Like?’. Dear little naive me, not knowing what an unbelievably gargantuan monster risk has become in recent times, some argue it’s the biggest business in the world. My wee foray was partly premised on such concepts as increasing risk aversion, a misunderstanding of the nature of risk and the whole risk business (particularly ridiculous risk assessments) distorting our behaviour and understanding and actually hindering progress. I think my research did confirm this but I felt overwhelmed as the juggernaut that is risk takes people along like some unthinking tsunami.

And yet…………..

The first of this year’s Reith lectures gave me heart. Dr Atul Gawande (who I’ve mentioned before) is doing them and if you haven’t, check him and them out. He began with a story about a young medic who having observed putting tubes in horses veins for treatment thought the same could be done in humans, he was ridiculed so did it to himself sticking a tube in one of his veins and feeding it through to his heart and took some x-rays. It is now a standard procedure of course and he was given a Nobel prize. Imagine the risk assessment on that nowadays? All bleedin’ risk assessments do is stifle proper risk taking and progress, all they do is provide assurance and insurance. They’re shit.

Much of his theme was taken up with experience and ‘standard practice’ in medicine being a hindrance and sometimes very dangerous (looking for the ignorance beyond). He gave one example in relation to ebola and quarantine procedures. These are obvious and simple he said: isolate those infected and wear protective stuff. What wasn’t considered was how to take the protective clothing off to avoid contamination. There is evidence that much infection has been caused by health workers in such ways!

So the Mirror has UKIP goggles for sale so that when you wear them your world is filtered to “reflect the imagined world-view of a die-hard Ukip supporter”, for those scared by “sandwich makers”, “facts” and are “tired of modern Britain”.

So Jack Monroe has upset people with her tweet calling out Cameron for using his dead son in speeches and debates about the health service. Such emotive tactics do tend to close down proper debate and Cameron has used it deliberately and calculatingly. Then all the Mail fuckers and the like are up in arms about someone pointing out Cameron’s behaviour, they are pathetically sanctimonious and yet more evidence of cogniitive dissonance if they can’t or won’t see what Cameron and the Tories are about.

So Blair gets an award from Save the Children, surprisingly this has upset quite a few people, I really don’t know why as the nice Mr Tony does so much for the middle east and is earning a fortune from it.

Manifesto 28:

  • A full and total reappraisal of risk, to include creating proper risk assessments that include what progress and gains might be made, not just the hazards and dangers. All to be done on 1 side of A4 paper at most.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


4 thoughts on “The risk of taking no risk.

  1. Sorry your feeling rough old chap. I wouldn’t feel guilty regarding your blog. It is neither short nor flimsy. Most of us couldn’t manage a few words in a daily diary let alone coming up with alliterative titles and graphics! Do a Japanese Haiku. 17 syllables will satisfy most of your international fan base.
    The Blair stuff is straight out of the Orwell. Strangely Orwell’s real name was Blair I believe. I’m sure the Ministry of Truth (Chilcott Inquiry) will tell us what we always suspected. Unfortunately, that might be after the (clear your throat) Catarrh World Cup
    Keep on Keeping On and Keep the Aspidistra Flying,


  2. Hark, one of the lessons of illness is to learn to be o so much gentler on yourself, so like Hector (please can I be a chive??), encourage you not to feel disappointed by ‘uninspired days’ – if everyone with cancer was inspired every day probably no interest in blogs… 🙂

    AND this risk issue is important: positive risk can be stupid as well as inspirational: buddhist (as in the philosophy, not religion) parable –
    Gautama tells a story (also involving fire) to a disciple about a rich man who had many children living in a large house that was in pretty bad repair. A fire broke out and the man had the sense to run outside but his children did not recognize the danger. Even when the man called to them and told them of the need to come outside, the children refused to leave because they were too attached to their carts and other playthings inside the house. Knowing that his children cared mainly about their playthings, the man bribed them by telling them that they would each receive three carts if they came outside. This ruse worked and the man’s children finally heeded his warning.

    (Remind you of anyone?? Seems the children are involving us in their risk; wise men and women rise up!)

    – which just goes to show that as with most moral/ethical judgements and decisions we make in life, fancy words (call it risk-assessment or what you will) and ‘evidence-based’ reasoning do not change the actuality and effects of the action/decision, much to the Outer Workers’ dismay.
    Hmm, not very clear – meaning to say that no amount of excuse will change a stupid thing into a sensible one.
    Better get of this hole before my ladder disappears…. den ( an avid daily reader, albeit of the quiet type) and I keeping hanging on in there with you both, with love all around.


    1. thanks Jo, I agree on the positive risk but have moved on and don’t think e should try and differentiate risk. Risk is what it is and only after the event can we decide whether it’s been good/bad, positive/negative. To try and impose something termed ‘positive risk’ denies the nature of risk, and the current obsession with risk assessment and it’s focus on hazards and bads leads to so called ‘risk aversion’ and stifling of any innovation or simply doing. It is hard to write about, but if we don’t the neocons, bean counters and reactionaries have free reign. I’ve yet to do a risk assessment on my pitchfork investment strategy.
      love duncan


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