Archive for the health Category

No It’s Not Hollywood!

Posted in Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by kathydasilva

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I am mindful of the event and the post event news of the Glenfell Tower fire as I speak. My own head did the analysis thing, of weighing the information as it was bled to us the public via news media and television reportage. My heart and mind did the thing of saying so how did the people, above floor twenty think, how did they think they could be rescued? And the sad surreptitious bleed from an off duty fireman to a fellow ‘brother’ revealed a significant detail. The man passed the information privately, but, still it came to be known via a twitter feed uploaded video. The information told us the ordinary public, 42 people had been found dead in just one flat. And amongst the forty two people were young children, and elderly mainly. They had hope of rescue, and were organized, as far as possible, probably sheltering in the least damaged flat, at the outbreak of the whole ordeal. The firemen, never came, the ‘airlift’ possibility never came about. I think of the famous film Towering Inferno, and the reality was and is, there is no Steve McQueen,  or  Paul Newman, let alone some swanky additional, like Harrison Ford to come and do ‘rescue’. Yet and I repeat, yet! They could have thought outside the ‘box’. Why no use of say a helicopter for people on the roof survivors? Why no thought of ropes and pullies, and some sort of bag or stretcher to let people too frail to climb or come down stairs, be rescued? The fire raged for about four hours, from about midnight. And most of the victims, suffered really badly from smoke inhalation. But, too, smoke can make the way ahead so difficult to see, so they tripped and maybe fell and knocked themselves out too. The building housed at least 600 tennants. Someone saw a child on fire, and then they fell out of a window. And we blame it on the time of day. There are people, who can climb with the minimum of equipment the height of one of these towers for sport. The sea rescue crews, are familiar with almost impossible situations, would it have hurt to call upon their skills? Mountain rescue teams similarly, carry ropes, and safety equipment, in the most hazardous conditions. It was also tweeted, from a fireman’s phone, obviously a young fireman, because the whole horror, of what they found, was unlike anything else before that they had seen before, he had captured using the iphone technology, the picture of the tower from floor to roof, in flames and had asked the question, ‘How are we goint to get in there?’ This was uploaded to twitter and maybe youtube but, it made me think how film obsessed we have all become. ‘We’ are being brought up on the wrong architypes. Not everyone is going to be an action hero. If it is hard to contemplate what the need to have the nerve to risk one’s own life is like, then, perhaps, this decision is already something fireman have come up against. I think men have to be the heroes they were destined for to be. And that might be a risky business. Some young muslim men, did go knocking doors all round the tower block vuluntarily. No one paid them. They did it out of the duty of good will, that God teaches us all. It is the sort of situation that Edward De Bono, would have used his ‘lateral’ thinking cap for. How do you get over a hundred people of possibly frail disposition down to ground level, through thick poisonous smoke fumes? The book of ‘how’ needs to be written before the next big tragedy, and maybe it is preventative measures only that will succeed in overcoming our high rise fears.

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Grenfell Holocaust

Posted in Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2017 by kathydasilva

GRENFELL

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(picture copyright of publisher K Da Silva 2017)
I continued my journey from Knightsbridge to see for my self, the horror of what has happened in the last week. It was not made easy for, all the surrounding tube stations, and it seems also buses coming into the immediate area of this fire, have been stopped from picking up passengers, and dropping them in the vercinity. I managed to walk from a further tube stop, nearby, I knew this area from a long time ago as an art student, Nottinghill is adjacent. I am grateful too, that on such a sunny day, this route proved, more of a spiritual walk of faith, to attend something so fundamentally right, and acknowledging the scale of the disaster, as a goal. I regarded this afternoon as a prayer walk. I had thought about the whole dilemma of tower block residents. I had too been in a top floor apartment, in Barkingside, but, my block had a fire hydrant point with miles of hose wound round a wheel all ready for when firemen attend to put a flat’s fire out. The one thing I do remember is the stairs in this council block were not that wide, they were narrow and not deep. So if a few hundred people tried through foggy smoke, to make a hurried way downward, you can imagine, the trouble, and accident it might cause. People who survived did describe this inability to see ahead, through the smoke. I did some fire training once with the ferry group Stenna Ferries. Infact, I went for a whole day to the fire training center in Sussex. The firemen, told us bluntly that our catamaran, which was the type of ferry we would be hostessing on, was made of a similar material to aircraft, and mainly aluminium, and it is the only metal that will catch fire. So inevitably all ferries have sprinkler systems onboard. This is the issue being raised it seems by everyone about the panelling in the Glenfell tower block. What an almighty blunder to have placed these panels all over the outside of the building. All the evacuees, needed a guide down the main staircase. They needed some training, previous to a real fire. The smoke, disables everyone’s vision, so you have to learn to descend feeling your way down (like a blind person), usually touching the left hand wall, and get everyone to put their right hand on the person infronts right shoulder. I can imagine sheer panic, because of no guide being there and it seems lessons yes, will be learned. Why no advice on the phone from the fire brigade other than placing a wet towel around shoulders?
The pictures tell their own story. People have lost homes, and loved ones, and there is no solace.

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The Grief Experience

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Current affairs, health, politics, Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2017 by kathydasilva

I went yesterday to visit my child’s grave in Southampton. He, my two year old bar three weeks off his second birthday, is buried near to my grandmother and grandfather. The two people in my life, that managed to stay faithful in their marriage, and believed that the sacred vows of love until the end, were the expectation.  They, my grandparents had married first in the Church of England, and after a while, my grandfather, had grown, more and more concerned over the fact that his faith really had belonged to his origins at birth, the Roman Catholic Church.  He talked this over with his wife, my mother’s mother, and she agreed to become a Roman Catholic, with him, and they married, a second time, in the Catholic Church. Hence, all my family are now Roman Catholic at least in origin.

It meant of course that buriel was the chosen formal end ceremony. I had not expected any part of the grievance, and trauma, that came, when I had had to leave, my little baby in the coffin box, at least four feet beneath soil filled with stones. Visiting the cemetary became a frequent event for the first year after he passed. But, my head was filled with so many strange voices. I would wake believing he was talking to me, saying things like, ‘You haven’t changed my nappy’. I kept thinking, that this was real, or possibly real, and did that mean he was alive and feeling wet, from a wet nappy, and also, that it could mean he was ‘alive’. Repeatedly the trauma kept producing this kind of thought, in me, and I was in quite a bad state. It was like a glass wall between me and the people around me, for a long while. I could see people enjoying themselves, but, for me the world was never going to be the same ever again.

I did the usual counselling sessions for bereaved people. It did help a bit, and I still worried if he was alive and starving in the grave for a long time. It may sound strange, but, my hope has always been on the optimistic side of everything. I could not believe he had gone.  The counsellor gave me the model for this type of trauma, calling it the Whirl Pool of Grief, and showing me, that at times, I might feel I was getting over the loss, and then sometimes, there would be something, that would drag me back to the middle, the core of the crisis, and it would all feel momentarily bad again. And she advised me to be kind to myself, and on those days, ‘Wear your pyjammas, and relax, allow yourself time.’  I still have not written the book on grief, that in my head, I thought might help others who suffer. Many, many of the mothers, whose children died young, would talk with me at the cemetary, and share their own experiences. Some of them had had breakdowns, through trying to carry on as normal, but, of course not giving time for the grieving process to occur. Some of them, had panic attacks, sudden palpatations, and sweats, that caused one woman to stop her range rover vehicle at the side of a round about, and use the dew on the grass to wake herself up from the panic and shaking, she was experiencing. One of them, had simply gone to take her children out for the day, and had sat in her car, with her hands on the wheel, and then could not move, not one single muscle. She had been carried to the ambulance, and hospitalized for over a week. They had told her that her body had completely siezed up due to the stress of the grief.  The way a child had died, varied, from illness, dying at birth, or accident. And like any news, of loss, this weighs heavily, in the minds of those closest to the individual who has passed. I still prefer to use the word ‘passed’, because even the nature of the whole cycle of life from birth to death,  it is the later, that is so extreme, in emotion felt. I know I prefer being alive for example. God has often showed me, what the peace of heaven is. I have often had the experience of being ‘taken up in the spirit’. It is a hard thing to describe, but every ounce of anxiety vanishes, and you experience a complete sense of belonging and peace. So I just wish I could remember this when, I get to feeling so full of grief.

The worst thing about my recent visit was being watched by someone with a camera. I have been involved with the IPCC investigating, the accident I was involved in as a pedestrian a year ago. I felt completely vulnerable to the person who had a camera, and it made me a little angry. The whole solace of visiting is to remember and to feel close to where my child lays. I pray, talk to the air around me, and generally, acknowledge his passing, my missing him, and a whole host of feelings.  The thought that someone thought they had the right to photograph myself in this most intimate of situations, is vile.

The dilemma of my own child’s death, which incidentally happened in Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children, on 7th July 2005, was to leave me forever, with a memory, a tragedy within, a day of tragedy, the day of the London Bombings. The wards, in intensive care, had been cleared, but for my own baby. The reason being,  to make way for casualties. However, the babies, who were in need of intensive care, got mostly moved but for mine. And the only ‘child’ casualty that appeared to be a boy of around twelve or thirteen, in pyjammas, though no visible wounds or bandages. You hear tell of faux flags and faux dramatized events through YouTube.com but, I cannot tell if this singular boy was an actor. We the parents were instructed not to go downstairs food would be brought up if necessary as the canteen was going to be used as some sort of ‘mash’ first assessment centre.  My child had had a fibril fit, and the cause of which was in part due to cardio myopathy, and other complications.

The graveyard people, the gravediggers had made the form of a question mark with the flowers left by people, noticing the date, and possibly thinking he was a victim of the bombing attacks. The hospital had been behind with all his medication on that day. I had been told by quite a few of the doctors that my boy Marcos had had every chance of recovery.

My elderly parents, came to help me back to my town of birth, with the body of my baby, we were allowed to do this, with some special permission. Marcos was wrapped up in a large hospital blanket. We rather dramatically drove through the night to Southampton. On arrival everyone went to bed, and I with my son beside, me in my mother’s living room on her sofa bed. And the next day too, I had laid him on the sofa cushions, as if asleep. And I too, had seen what I thought was his chest rise and fall. But, people say it is an illusion. I had visited the funeral parlour where he was prepared for his funeral day. The chapel of rest, was low lit with candles, and rather sombre. But, right until the day of buriel, I had visited daily, kissed his forehead, and hoped, he would jump alive some how. I had repeatedly said, ‘Marcos, Marcos, mummy needs you’, in between sobs, and the general unreality of the whole loss. And I felt I was betraying him, somehow, if I left his side.  It is terrible, losing someone, and there is no advice to how to grieve, or for how long to grieve. I guess, I grew like the other souls around me who miss someone, learning to live with the hole that the loss creates. So in life, as much as the joy of the birth and my son’s two years of life, gave, me, in equal doses, now there is sorrow, too. I do believe in heaven, I do believe, I will see him again, and I do visit the grave not so often but, whenever, I hear his little voice, somewhere in the air. And hopefully, we will be together, when I come to the end of my own days.

It is twelve years on from that day.

If any of the above helps, at all I will feel happy, and also the counselling was a good support service that I was told about by my doctor/GP.

 

 

Random Day

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, health, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2017 by kathydasilva

If walking through the park was something of a regular need for the daily constitutional, well, that is, I think,  something I should be doing. And for better or worse now the weather is improving, I must make some sort of effort to get my body moving and my health will follow. It is I am sure something writers and artists always struggle with the whole isolation element of writing or making art only to find, that the whole goal is to communicate, and yes, the isolation is only good for the purpose of concentration on the finer details of what you make. I am glad that within the four walls of my apartment stroll two adorable cats, with their own idea of what enjoyment is. And they both individually select their place of repose, sometimes on a window sill, and sometimes snug up against the heater, balanced on the back cushion of the sofa. In my humble, and rather small reception room or lounge, I have the best sofa, as yet, having  only purchased second hand furniture mostly, but, one sofa bed was indeed new. The burned orange colour of the cushions, is enough to make a person feel the warmth of summer sun. I am glad, now, that the ‘bargain’ in the heart shop, came to be mine, one drissly winter’s day, back in the autumn of I think 2012. I was lucky to have acquired it. Anything of true value will always be at least over the £400 mark, this one only a fractional cost at £40. I am all up for the recycle if you can, and especially if it’s for charity. And the heart shop holds a unique place in my own life history for my son, had caught some bug, as a baby, and his heart had suffered the distortions of cardiomyopathy. Enlarged left ventrical. The anti biotics and meds, ensured the heart functioned as good as near new. And I believed he would live a whole life, alongside me some of the way. And as we head toward a weekend of rapturous celebration of motherhood, I find myself left with a horrid sense of loss.  When my sister and I were kids, we made presents for our mother, made her the first cup of tea of the morning, and raced through to her bedside, in a wholly excited mood, to see what she would say and the delight of her face lighting up with a smile, and the inevitable ‘Thank You!’ And why not? Why not celebrate everything, to do with the whole act of making a family. I am glad there is still some humanity in our culture. There is still some wonderful thing ahead, but, I am going to have to make it happen. And if remembering what is wholly good about life through my memories of  childhood, revisiting places that do just that will be just where you will find me this summer. Sand in my shoes…