Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't look now

Forewarned is forearmed.
Proverb. If you know about something in advance you can prepare for it.

An oncoming car flashing its lights to alert you to a police car up ahead; a colleague advising you never to present anything to your boss after lunch because he’ll be drunk; a girlfriend warning you she’s allergic to flowers. Forewarned is forearmed. Be prepared. Knowledge is power. Forewarned is forearmed. Fantastic. But there are times when it’s better not to know what’s coming up. Like when you’re in hospital. In my opinion there’s no advantage in knowing what an epidural needle looks like. Do you really need to know how big it is and where exactly they’re going to put it? Personally I don’t. What you don’t know can’t hurt you is my motto. When I’m in hospital I have a simple set of rules I stick to: don’t look, don’t listen, don’t ask. I’ve had a catheter stuck up my winkie, but I couldn’t describe it to you if my life depended on it. I haven’t the faintest idea how big the tube is, how far inside it goes, or where it goes when it’s up there, because I wasn’t daft enough to look and I didn’t ask. So I don’t have to worry about the next time I have one fitted because I haven’t got anything to focus my worry on. I’ve got no reference point; it could be a length of garden hose or made of cut crystal for all I know. Ignorance is bliss. I never look when they take my blood either. There are some things my eyes just don’t need to see. What good does it do you knowing? Why torture yourself? If I’d known in advance they were planning to try and give me an epidural I’d have done a runner long before I got to theatre. I’d be on a beach in South America with a new identity right now. Maybe this all sounds a bit cowardly, but we’ve all got our own way of dealing with things, we all have our own survival mechanisms. And my particular game plan is to avoid knowing anything. There is one exception though, if the anaesthetist is related to Harold Shipman, I’d quite like to know up front.