Sunday, 4 May 2008

A cold autumn.

Driving home from church this morning we came upon a young man laying screaming on the ground next to his crashed motorbike. A car had just knocked him down and fled the scene, leaving him for dead.

We pulled over, and I ran to help. Having studied a bit of first aid (and even written a first aid course two years ago as part of a contract for a merchant bank – itself a long story: large sections needed revision to cover their executive staff; turned out the classes on CPR were irrelevant since none of them had hearts ;-) it was a relief to discover how much I could remember: if you’d asked me any questions ten minutes earlier I’d have known nothing. Emergency (it’s 000 in Australia, not 911) dispatched an ambulance and began going through the DR ABC checklist (if you don’t know what that is you should: knowing could save someone’s life - why schools seem to think it’s more important to teach algebra than first aid is completely beyond me) and it was reassuring to be able to confirm each step had already been taken.

The rider began to settle: his left arm, leg and collarbone were in pretty bad way, but he had movement and feeling in his fingertips and toes, no significant bleeding, and no head injury – helmets are compulsory for a reason. A passing fireman stopped to take care of the fire hazard: fuel from the bike had splashed everywhere, and then the emergency services arrived.

The police explained that an off-duty officer travelling in the opposite direction had seen everything and given chase, arresting the hit-and-run driver at the next intersection. She (the police officer) returned while I was giving my details, and looked every bit as proud as she deserved to feel: the driver was a tall and angry man easily three times her size, and confronting him would have taken considerable courage.

I’ll drop over to the hospital to visit the rider later today and see how he’s going: in parish I used to do a lot of hospital work, and it still feels like one of the most rewarding ways possible of spending a Sunday afternoon.


All of which brings to an end what has been very dark week. On Thursday a close friend’s ex-wife lost her son in an accident on Sydney Harbour: their daughter was tragically killed about 10 years before, and the grief into which they have been plunged is more than anyone can even begin to comprehend. While at the same time this weekend, which is for us late autumn with high clear skies and cold afternoons, marks 20 years since another dear friend developed tertiary aids.

In those days, which were long before the appearance of antiretrovirals, his future was so much of a forgone conclusion that everyone went into a kind of denial. Quasi-fundamentalist and strangely bohemian at the same time, we were all about as functional as an acupuncturist with Parkinsons. A close-knit community for whom the years have not been equally kind, we’ve long gone our separate ways, and for some those days are only a vaguely remembered science-fiction.

But I know each of us remembers Dusan, and the months following this weekend, which lead to that awful August-September of 1988. I’ll post more in his memory as the anniversary of his death draws nearer, and I promise that it shan’t be too bleak. To write of Dusan in any way other than with laughter and energy would be to deny the life that he brought to everyone around him. This is a song from “back-in-the-day” local band Died Pretty called D.C. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found it on YouTube, and who knows: it might even be about him...


Doorman-Priest said...

Simply thinking of you and upholding all, inadequately, in prayer.

FranIAm said...

DP said it first and perhaps best.

Prayers upon prayers for one and all.

Peace to you.

Kate Morningstar said...

Yes, to all of you.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Now you are a hero in more ways than one, Alcibiades. Thank God you were there and knew what to do!

Prayers for your friends in their grief, and for the soul of Dusan.

As long as I've been working in the field of HIV, I still haven't lost anyone dear. Given my age, and my huge circle of gay friends, that's nothing short of a miracle...

Kate Morningstar said...

Alcibiades -- do tell about DR ABC? B could be breathing or bleeding ... And we went to school in different places.

Lapinbizarre said...

Beautiful post, thank you.

I see that Gordon Ramsay is latest on the Australian RC church's hit-list.

Lindy said...

You are a hero. I always knew it.

To write... in any way other than with laughter and energy would be to deny the life...

This is starting to be how I feel about the whole thing. I used to either not think of AIDS at all or just be thankful that it's over... the worst of it... for me. I don't even know anyone who has HIV. They are all gone. In the last couple of years, all I can remember is the love and how much we laughted.

Kate Morningstar said...

Last week I saw someone I just know -- a friend's brother. He said he was having blood work in the morning; he had to every other week. "Every other week?" Yes, they were checking his iron levels -- he was consistently anemic and they didn't know why -- "It has nothing to do with the HIV," he said. They were wondering if it was Lithium affecting his liver.

I've been struck all week by the conversation. I knew he was bipolar, and Lithium seems to be working for that better than anything else has. I remember what it was like 25 years ago -- and he was just so matter-of-fact about the HIV. And so was I. It is still a horrible disease with a sure outcome -- but the prognosis IS better than it used to be in terms of life-span and quality of life, and the terror and fear-mongering seem lower.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Alcibiades, it's good that you were able to help the cyclist. I'm so sorry about the rest of your dark week.

It's odd to think that it's autumn on the other side of the world. I thought at first that this was an old post.

Alcibiades said...

Kate: DR ABC stands for:
Danger - check that nobody is putting themself in danger by assisting the injured person
Response - is the person conscious and able to respond to questions?
Airway - clear the airway of any obstruction
Breathing - check if the perswon is breathing, and if not commence resuscitation.
Circulation - feel for a pulse, and if not present commence cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Forgive me for having forgotten that these (or similar first aid regime) are taught to school children in many more enlightened parts of the world. Here in Oz it was ignored by any of the schools I attended infavour of such essentials as using a slide rule (ok - so I know that dates me: but have you any idea what an idiotic waste of time developing that skill has proven to be??!!) and writing in italics (ditto).

lapin: there was a few comments in the papers regarding Gordon Ramsay, and doubtless a bit on talk back radio, but it soon passed and his show is still rating well. Googling around on the subject I noticed that a Scottish paper was claiming his plan to oopen a restaurant in Sydney had been stymied - I guarantee that one comes as a surprise to everyone living here, including the regulators who'ds supposedly blocked him. My guess is the RC pronouncement against him, which came from Adelaide (about 24 hours non-stop drive southwest of Sydney) was just an attempt by the local bishop to grab a little media back off Pell in Sydney, who's been grabbing all the limelight with WYD approaching - but then you should already know I'm a cynic ;-)

everyone else: Thanks for your prayers - the young fellow is doing well, and while he won't be competing on "So You Think You Can Dance" any time soon, but he won't be playing wheel-chair tennis either, so he's certainly got lot's to be thankful for.