Hello once again dear readers, glad you could join me as I continue my long tale of summertime happenings in the life of my alter ego – a guineapig called Calliope.
If you recall in my last post I was resting and re-ecuperating in a German Hospital in Neu Brandenberg. In fact I had settled in rather comfortably, rather too comfortably and had started to feel reluctant to leave my golden bubble of ‘white yet exotic other’, protected by my non comprehensive language skills, non comprehensive unless I chose to engage my brain and sprechen und verstehen Deutsch. Even the anodyne food wasn’t phasing me – dried bread, vegan pate and fruit three times a day. I had a flask of green tea and a supply of bottled fizzy water whenever I wanted. I was learning that hospitals can be wonderful places if you just want to sit and do nothing, drink shit loads of green tea and drift in and out of consciousness being good and quiet and patient like. Much like being in a domestic guineapig hutch with no playmates.
In ancient Greece there were healing temples to a deity who was once a centaur called Asclepius. Doctors make an pledge to him (and others including his daughter Hygeia) when they take the Hippocratic Oath. People who were considered terminal were sent there as a last resort. In these temples which were like gated communities, incubation or dreaming was the main healing modality. Dogs and snakes would tend to the sick and lick their wounds, and there was also much human music making and ritual*. Some people recovered – a case of radical remission ** . Was I having a hospital delire – the result of a fanciful imagination creating stories to counteract institutional sterility? No dear readers, everything is possible, EVERYTHING.
The doctor did his rounds and enquired as to my well being. I told him there was no more bleeding and that my friends were going to come and pick me up in a car later that evening. He said he was happy for that – and glad I would be going back to london. Except I had tuned in to my body and it was telling me to go and recuperate – to ‘get back to the garden’ a la Joni Mitchell.
Herr Doktor: ‘You are going back to London aren’t you?’
CGP: ‘Well yes I will be, but nein not now. I am going to stay with my friends on a farm outside of Berlin.’
Herr Doktor: Adjusting glasses and smiling benignly ‘I would advise you to get straight back to London and go immediately to a hospital.’
CGP: ‘Thankyou for all your care Doctor, I appreciate it. I need to recover from the bleed and the radiotherapy on a farm before I can handle the pressure and stress of travelling. Stress raises the blood pressure and could trigger more bleeding.’
He couldn’t argue with this. He smiled again and with a kindly parting shot said “you will not heal this cancer with music and sound you know”. This took me aback as I had not shared any of anything with him – he hadn’t asked – he just knew I had been at a music festival and was a musician, spooky doktor.
Some officious admin person came by and wanted my passport. I handed over both my passport and magnanimously proffered my eu health insurance card, the one you could get for free at the post office if you are travelling.’Yes we are still in Europe I quipped – despite my country’s stupid and disastrous choice to leave. Sorry for that.’
The day wore on in a haze of relaxation.
It was now late in the evening and the hospital was vibing on night shift and sleep mode and I reluctantly had to leave. I said goodbye to my bed, my room mate with the dancing partner of a chemo drip, gingerly packed as much as I could without bending stretching or lifting. Agents Coost and Chiara arrived and grabbed my luggage took me out to the car where a man I had never met before was in the driving seat. Bugged out from lack of sleep and guarana type ethical stimulants he had heroically decided to help out when no other drivers could be found. This was Diogo.
Dear readers we had a nightmare almost Rocky Horror drive through thunder, forked lightening, sheet lightening, scary lightening, flash floods, torrential rain, visibility down to zero, road works, new road works and a sat nav in full disorientation and us all bug eyed and post festival fatigued well in my case post radiotherapy fatigue and shock.
We finally got past Berlin, past the freak storm, into a clear night then turned into a road that was nothing more than a bumpy track for the last few kilometres. It was pitch black. At the end of the track was a light and a welcoming party of five barking dogs, a large dusty hallway and Gabba – who I hadn’t seen for 8 years – with a table full of late food, plus home made goats cheese, honey and apple juice. My car angels Chiara and Diogo ate quickly and then left having to drive back through the night to the festival site. Coost and Gabba carried my stuff to Gabba’s trailer which they insisted was going to be my home whilst they slept in a van.
I had arrived at Bienenwerder or Bee living Place. I had come here on blind trust, little knowing it was actually a proper anarchist collective organic farm, and that it was called a Bee place – well that is what google translate proffered. All I knew was that Gabba lived here and Coost part time. I did not know what would happen, how long I would stay for and whether I would have to be driven as an emergency through the night to a hospital in Berlin. I was a bit scared, very weak and physically compromised. But I trusted that I was meant to come here. This bleed and hospital visit had been a game changer and I was ready to start facing the tumour down, no more comfy co-existing and pussy footing around as it were.
Tune into the next installment next week dear friends and readers.
Love Calliope x
* From Kimberley C. Patten. Ancient Asclepieia: Institutional Incubation and the Hope of Healing in Alzenstat & Bosnak: Imagination and Medicine.
** For a good read on hope science and possibilities: Kelly A. Turner phd. Radical Remission Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. Harper Collins. 2014.
Ps for good measure the Hippocratic oath – I swear by Apollo The Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the Gods and Goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. (Yes its from wiki.)