The following is a personal account that is most likely similar to hundreds of other individual stories that have occurred over the past year or so. Its only particularity is that it has been screened from a perspective that is concerned about the progressive dehumanization of medicine that accompanies the irruption of ever heavier and more complex technologies.
They were an ordinary couple in their eighties. He did have some health problems that had reduced his independence, but with proper home care, everything was going pretty well. But one day, a momentary loss of consciousness made him lose his balance and fall heavily. His worried relatives logically called the emergency room and they decided it was prudent to take him to the hospital. This is in the south-east of the Brussels region, and the nearest hospital is, unfortunately, the Delta du Chirec site.
This is the beginning of the usual journey of an elderly person arriving for the first time in a state-of-the-art hospital: a series of different examinations, some of them very invasive, lead to rather worrying diagnoses, but without any vital prognosis. As the saying goes, » When you go into a hospital, they always find something for you… ». The multiplication of technical procedures is, as we know, the way many hospitals ensure their profitability, each procedure being generously reimbursed. Fortunately, the gentleman has the famous DKV health insurance that will allow him to amortize the cost.
A few days later, the wife of Mr. has serious problems with the digestive tract (consequence of stress?) and must also be hospitalized, same direction… Surgical intervention and here is that the two members of the couple, rather fusional, find themselves in the same room, which they obviously appreciate. If all is not rosy, they do against all odds, even if the rules of isolation prevent them from seeing their family, especially their daughter who is very close to them.
Irresponsibility vs. dignity
However, we suddenly learn that an undue visitor (thanks to what privilege?) has entered the geriatric ward and, since he was carrying the dreaded virus, it turns out that at least half a dozen patients in the geriatric ward are quickly infected, including the two members of the couple. In Mr. it happens asymptomatically, but Mrs. quickly develops a severe form. What do you think happened? That the hospital will take care of them, assuming responsibility for the fault committed? Not at all: Mister is sent home quickly although it is obvious that he cannot live alone. His daughter, quickly obtains a leave for family assistance (thanks to the unions to have fought to obtain this right) and assist him continuously.
A few days later, Mrs. was also sent home with unworthy words from the person in charge of the service: she is a difficult patient; whether she is here or at home, it’s the same thing: we can’t do anything for her… In fact, she will last 24 hours before she starts to suffocate Fortunately, a public hospital, that of Iris-sud Ixelles, will take care of her and treat her with dignity. The intensive care unit will accompany the patient and her family with great humanity, allowing, with maximum safety rules (like a cosmonaut’s suit), her children to accompany the patient during her last moments. Doctors and psychologists took a long time to explain her health condition, to discuss the care still to be given, why it was useless to make her suffer unnecessarily by intubating her. His departure was peaceful.
Two covid-positive individuals were sent home, so the tracing/testing department contacted Mr., and investigated for contact cases. This is where yours truly, the son-in-law, comes in. After 10 days of intense stress and emotions, the couple’s daughter, my partner, also experienced health problems and could no longer provide constant care for her father, so I moved in with them and became a first-line case contact(1). It was amazing to hear the advice given by our brave advisors: put on masks, stay away, etc., etc. If you pointed out to them that helping a person with a loss of autonomy to get up, sit down, go to the bathroom, or eat is totally impossible by their standards, they would be speechless before repeating the mantras that everyone knows by heart today.
So, we assume and logically, after some time, the mandatory tests every 7 days turn out to be positive. But we were ready and we know that, as Dr. Antoine Béchamp (1816–1908), Pasteur’s rival, said: » The virus is nothing (or not much), the terrain is everything « , so we take our vitamin D and we ask our B and T lymphocytes to mobilize(2).
The use of the health system is also edifying: I was victim of a bug that made me receive several times the codes (with 16 signs) that give access to the test centers (none of them worked). My partner received a negativity announcement that allowed her to go out and do a series of previously prohibited activities…until the next day when she was told the exact opposite: they had made a mistake and sent the previous test result!(3) But worst of all is the omnipresence of computers. The coded results are sent by email, recommending the coronalert app which you obviously did not want. Stuck for one of my last results, because I didn’t have the proper ID reader, I tried to find human interlocutors. Yes, it does exist. Here, it was original: you are told that you are caller number 20, then 19, 18… After an hour and a half, it’s your turn and you learn that if the result exists somewhere, it has not yet arrived where you called and that tomorrow, maybe… I admit I was mean to the poor operator who ended up telling me that with her colleague, she was getting a lot of angry or desperate people. Two unfortunates are there to mop up the complaints of thousands of victims of the digital divide… The next day, I call at 9:00 am and 5 seconds and am directly n°4… 15 minutes later, I learn that my result has arrived… but that they cannot give it to me: I have to send an email with a scanned copy of my identity card to their email address. I may not die of covid, but I almost died of irritation.(4)
The above is unfortunately not original, it must have happened to many of the relatives of the 21,750 Belgian covid victims or of the 741,000 who were declared covid-positive. I have therefore tested for you, against my will, a chaotic path where I have encountered islands of benevolence, coming from a past where we managed to build a rather exemplary medical system, with competent and empathetic professionals. Those who want to destroy it call it the welfare state, and for them this is an insult, since they would prefer to see the jungle without a state. But with the advent of covid, with the budget cuts in health care, with the advent of an increasingly technical medicine, with practitioners who seem to have forgotten what the Hippocratic oath is, I also discovered the dark side of medical-technical modernity.
I don’t know how much this abstruse system of delivering test results by computer cost, but given the long hours it takes to sort out, sometimes it’s disastrous value for money. Of course, the alternative would be to hire a few dozen humans who would take the trouble to contact you, just as they do to track/trace you to force all the case-contacts you have to report to be tested.
This is probably just one example of the digital dictatorship(5) that some people want to impose on the occasion of the epidemic. It’s amazing to see the media still trying to sell the pseudo benefits of the virtual when students saturated with online courses, workers exhausted by working from home, activists ulcerated by the ineffectiveness of video conferencing (hipsters call it webinars)… are all telling you how fed up they are.
When the revolts will have gone up another notch, when the fearful will have understood that they have often been unnecessarily frightened, can we hope for a majority reaction to oppose these abuses? If not, as Souchon says, we will all go to the utra-modern solitude…
February 18, 2020
- J’ai ainsi pu, bien qu’homme, participer du care, cette protection/perpétuation/reproduction de la vie que l’on dit parfois réservée au genre féminin. Cela m’a rappelé ce beau compliment que m’a fait mon père, il y a 20 ans, quand je me suis beaucoup occupé de lui après la mort de son épouse : « Il est bien mon fils, il s’occupe de moi comme une fille ».
- Vous ne croyez pas aux pouvoirs de l’esprit ? Alors vous êtes les victimes toutes désignées de la médecine industrielle qui à tout problème ne voit qu’une solution simpliste (confinement, vaccin), ne faisant pas confiance à votre système immunitaire qui, en fin de compte, sera pourtant celui qui, naturellement ou artificiellement mis en route, vous sauvera.
- On s’indigne à juste titre que des entreprises indélicates annoncent leur licenciement par mail à leurs employés. Ici, c’est un verdict de vie ou de risque non négligeable de mort que l’on découvre, seul, devant son ordinateur. C’est vraiment un summum de manque de respect.
- J’ai renoncé à ce stade, mais ma compagne à poursuivi l’expérience jusqu’à son terme et, 2 jours plus tard, le verdict électronique tombait. Heureusement, entre temps, j’avais contacté un médecin de ma maison médicale qui, lui, en 2 clics avait mon résultat. Quel bonheur de tomber sur un humain qui entend, parle, explique, rassure le cas échéant, conseille. Finalement, les principaux intéressés sont souvent les derniers avertis…
- Il y a 20 ans déjà Larry Lessig écrivait l’article « Code is Law » (Le code c’est la loi) qui montrait que ceux qui contrôleraient internet prendraient le pouvoir à la place des États. Ceci implique que la lutte pour contrôler le cyberespace fait de ce lieu une arène de combat. Il attire les libertariens qui voient là un exercice radical de leur liberté et les mondialistes néolibéraux qui voient là un moyen de contrôler la loi en contrôlant le code.