The Mirror Man

For just a few weeks, we led parallel lives. Except that mine was remote and nothing like as intense. Any tears that I shed were but a mere trickle compared to what Gail has known these last five weeks. It will be five weeks tomorrow. I remember the phone call: I remember that I was already booked to be heading four hundred miles in the wrong direction. But it didn’t alter the fact that I cared.

I still care.

I look at the posts, and I know that I’m not alone. I’m not even in a minority. If Sky did a possession stats thing just now, Eileidh would be sitting there with about 70% of the smile market. Except it was was never that easy. That was just the stuff that we saw: her followers, her admirers, the people who just wished that she would do the magic one more time and beat this thing.

But it didn’t happen.

Gail borrowed this from a lady called Zoe Clark-Coates:

“It’s kind of shocking when your world falls to pieces and everything and everyone around you carries on with life. How can the birds continue to sing? How can people carry on loving life? It is like you have become frozen in time and are now watching life like a movie. As the weeks and months roll by, life becomes more normal again, but you will never forget that point in time where life stood still”.

Life stood still for me on June 9th when our mam died. Her time wasn’t even up. It came about because of a set of circumstances that I’ll never understand or get to the bottom of. But it happened and I have to move on. But I couldn’t/didn’t do that for about six weeks: I was mentally paralysed. The week after our mam died, Eileidh married Harrison. The week after Eileidh married Harrison, it was our mam’s funeral. The week after our mam’s funeral, Eileidh gained her Angel Wings. That was the schedule. That was the storyline coming down the tracks. For five weeks, I was a complete mess.

You see the thing that Gail and I shared in common for those few short weeks is that we both knew it was coming: it’s just that neither of us knew how quickly, how suddenly, and with such force, life would be taken from us. Gail described the small room, and how you knew that if ever you got ushered in there, the news could only be bad. I was in that small room in 1972, five days before before cancer took my old man. We didn’t know it would only be five days, we thought it might be a month, maybe two. But life isn’t like that. I was nineteen and that was forty five years ago. On June 8th when I arrived at our mam’s bedside, it could have been forty five minutes ago. You never forget.

So I watch from afar, not really knowing how it is to be in Gail’s shoes, but it doesn’t stop me thinking about her, and Callum and Cerys. I think about the whirlwind that’s hiding in the clouds. I think about the havoc that’s no’ happening anymore. And I think about Dixon. I think I only saw Eielidh and Dixon together once. She adored him. Two wee monkeys together, having fun. It takes a cat person to know a cat person. Puddles was a cat person right enough.

The way it worked out for me, Eileidh’s Celebration Of Life was the day before we went away on holiday. I don’t drive much these days so that was a driveathon and a half. Aberdeen and back on the Monday: Chester on the Tuesday. Then Naples (thankfully, no’ a motor).

When we got back, I had to sort myself out: quite literally had to sort myself out. I’d done 64 miles in two weeks, and hee haw work to talk of. I was a mess. Still. So drastic action was called for: cue SNOMED and LCFN.

If you’ve been following this story for the past few weeks, you’ll know that I’m currently engaged in a love hate relationship with SNOMED-CT, the clinical healthcare software that coming to a GP practice near you on April Fools Day next year. Yes really. Even the Tories couldn’t have scripted it better: forget the Millenium bug and Brexit. SNOMED day has the potential for seriously fuck up the NHS. But that won’t happen if the boffins get it right. SNOMED is seriously good shit. So I’ve spent the best part of this year, in and around my real work, trying to get to grips with the new technology. Complex doesn’t even tell the half of it. You’ve heard of SAP, yea? Well SNOMED is to the human body what SAP is to an automated factory: everything’s hunky dory until something goes wrong, at which point you’d better have your best guys on the job.

Passing the advanced SNOMED-CT Implementation course is my number one objective for 2017. It even comes ahead of a zillion miles. I know, if I make it through the next three months, that I have a real chance to make a difference: useful stuff, like finding people who are actually ill, but don’t yet know it. It’s the stuff of science fiction: and of my dreams. When my previous employer told me fifteen months ago “son, we don’t need you anymore: we’re letting you go”, they could not have known what impact their shortsightedness would have on the wellbeing of mankind. Your loss, my gain.

You see, the way your history is going to change, on your medical records, will be ground breaking when it goes live, and hopefully for the better. Whereas the old clinical coding system was just a library of near on 350K unique codes that all meant something in isolation, the new stuff is all inter-related: the power and the flexibility is enormous.

And for the record, neuroblastoma has a unique concept id: 432328008. And it has subtype children: 81562007: Adrenal neuroblastoma. 704152002: Metastatic neuroblastoma. 414676007: Metastatic euroblastoma of orbit proper. 281560004: Neuroblastoma of brain. 281565009: Paraspinal neuroblastoma. 281564008: Pelvic neuroblastoma. 281563002: Thoracic neuroblastoma. 281566005: Abdominothoracic neuroblastoma. They might just look like a bunch of numbers, but not when you have a logic processor sitting in the back end, able to join up all of the dots and turn the relationships back into words and phrases that we mere mortals can understand. I have to get through three more modules before I can think of cutting I’llloose on this research work. But I know it’s out there, and I have half an idea what it is that I need to do. I just need to suss out the other half now.

The week’s miles have been littered with pain. I’m now coming up to the anniversary of knackering my right thigh chasing a Strava segment, and while it lets me away with it if I promise to be good, most of the time I’m not. So tonight’s it’s sore: feckin sore, and all because I’ve driven hard two days in a row. Round these parts, anything about 14mph average over two and a half hours is good going, not just because of the hills but because it’s so feckin’ windy most of the time. Yesterday was 34 miles at 14.6. Today was 32 at 14.3. It feels like I’ve got a dead leg, except I haven’t. It’s been there for eleven months and I’m starting to suspect it’s to be my bedfellow now till the end of time. But at the end of the day, tomorrow will rack up the 81st double ton of miles, and there’s just the wee smidgering of a chance that the four year anniversary on 19th August might also be a cake day: but I’ll need to go some: I still need 520 miles.

The last few weeks have been a hard shift, both mentally and physically. Coming off of the back of the #ForeverFive series between Eileidh’s passing and her Celebration Of Life, then the Napoli Nil week, I’ve managed to pile in eighteen 30 mile days in a row. It wrecks yer legs, believe me. Yeah, the first few were easy peasy, but see these last six or seven: different ball game. This is where the mental side of LCFN takes on the physical: and there can only ever be one winner.

I look at the last few weeks and all I see is pain. Sometimes all I feel is pain. But somehow you get through: just enough to go through it again the next day. Repeat.

Sometimes I feel like I look in the mirror and see Gail, but on a smaller scale.

The Mirror Man.