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Physician heal thyself

January 19, 2019

The partition of Ireland was a temporary measure – a sticking plaster over the wound of Rebellion and Civil War, employed by Britain because they could find no other way of squaring the circle of Unionists and Republicans. However, instead of regularly changing the dressing and cleaning the wound, they walked away and convinced themselves that, as there was no obvious bleeding from where they stood, everything was fine.

The wound began to heal slowly, but, as is always the case, without proper procedures to keep the dressing and the wound clean, infection slowly built up again and by the late 1960’s it was festering and highly toxic.

At this point, the plaster fell off and the British tried many different techniques to try and stem the bleeding – from packing the wound by force to suturing the edges in the hopes that this would lead to healing.

Eventually, with the help of some additional American remedies of neutral discussion, a new Good Friday plaster was found which could stem the worst of the infection and let the wound breathe – in the hopes that eventually, with the right amount of ongoing attention, there would be a resolution to the illness, and the wound would slowly heal..

Some believed that the cause of the wound should be treated so as to prevent any further outbreaks of infection, but others said that as long as it wasn’t bleeding, that was all anyone could hope for, and, anyway, there were a number who liked there being a plaster there because it reminded people that there was a wound and it was good to suffer. They had only agreed to a plaster in the first place because they believed it was always going to be there.

Some disagreed and said that the whole body would only be fully fit again when there was no more need for the plaster and the various germs and microbes which caused the wound had been changed into positive anti-bodies.

A lot of money was spent ensuring the wound was kept clean and  the Good Friday plaster was kept in place. A breathing plaster helped the wound heal – to the extent that, despite some itching round the edge and the occasional temptation to pick at the plaster, many people forgot there had ever been a wound at all. Because they couldn’t see it and it wasn’t bleeding, they thought it had healed – and a small group of folk believed that the patient was a malingerer and just liked the attention gained by being ill.

The British consultant, who had other patients who were more demanding, was struggling with funding and, as a result of infighting in the hospital, decided to focus on other treatments elsewhere.

The local doctors, who had been treating the wound on a regular basis, warned that this would end up with the plaster falling off, and, with no replacement, this would inevitably lead to re-infection and an opening up of the wound.

The British doctors, supported by a small group of “wound deny-ers”,  ignored this warning and made preparations to remove the plaster, and became very  annoyed when European medics supported the local doctors and prepared to put in place some emergency dressings to maintain the healing process.

The British medics started to blame the patient for the wound – even though it was they who had made the original incision and had failed to maintain focus on treating the wound and curing its cause.

Meanwhile, the patient started to suffer from anxiety, and worried at what might become of the wound and the chance of further infection.

And the English medics continued to fight amongst themselves – even ignoring the Scottish doctors who had a history of medical invention and common sense treatment. Some of the most influential English doctors, who had not even seen the wound, or studied its pathology, opined that it would continue to heal without intervention, despite the previous regressions.

And the moral of the story is that bandaging with wishful thinking is a Victorian style of medicine; it was ineffective then, and it’s plain dangerous now

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