Yeah, so I haven’t been posting much lately. School summer holidays always make it difficult to carve out time for writing. Then in the middle of them came the news that the police had determined that the evidence in respect of the death of Connor Sparrowhawk (‘LB’) was not of the level required to put a case for corporate manslaughter before the Crown Prosecution Service.
Even though Connor had died by drowning, alone in the bath of an NHS ward; even though this was after the hospital had been warned that he had epilepsy; even though clinical staff were aware he had had had a tonic-clonic seizure less than three months previously; even though the Health Trust responsible had accepted and admitted that his death was preventable: as an organisation it would not be facing criminal charges.
As I read the blogpost by Connor’s mother, Dr. Sara Ryan, about the decision, I felt a lump of sick apprehension and something like panic settle into my stomach, where it has remained ever since. But it hasn’t stayed only there. Tendrils of nausea and darkness have been twisting up my throat and into my mind, throttling thought and willpower. I remember that feeling. It is fear: pervasive, non-specific fear, formless and opaque as fog, dark as cuttlefish ink. It clouds everything, slows everything. You have to check things over three times because you can see neither what is in front of you nor what you have just passed.
It happened before Dad’s inquest too, as I waded time after time through his medical records, collated and recollated research papers, read paragraphs of the family submission over and over before I could figure out where and how to edit them. Oddly enough, the mind-fog did not, for the most part, affect my work – I could disengage the bit of my brain that operated in the office. That bit could roll on, unemotional and detached, much the same as usual.
Everywhere else, I desperately wanted just to run away from the inquest stuff, but since I could neither leave Eldest and Grenouille, nor take them with me, it wasn’t physically possible. I did do a lot of running away in my head, though, frantically trying to escape down corridors of memory from the present awfulness.
It didn’t work. Many of the avenues were blocked, choked off by great ropy vines of fear, and most of my in-my-head running away ended up as scrabbling like a hamster in some corner that I could not get out of. Sleep might have helped. On occasional nights, a tsunami of fatigue broke over me, tumbling me out into the surf of oblivion before spitting me up like flotsam on the littoral of the following morning. Those nights did not make up for all the ones where 1 a.m., 2 a.m., occasionally 3 a.m. and sometimes even 4 a.m. ticked by, green on the bedroom clock, before a feeble ripple of rest washed over my eyelids.
All this I was remembering, and in some sense re-experiencing, this August and September and it was paralysing. I did not and do not know what Dr. Ryan was experiencing, or whether her experience has in any way resembled mine, but I did know that she was facing an inquest, and that one of her main aims and supports had been cut away from her. While I did not know, I could imagine all too easily and vividly something of what that might feel like.
But, when pursued by demons, running away is, in the end, useless. Everyone carries their spectres with them. In the end, you have to stop, haul them off your back and face them. So here I am. Stopped running (sorry,
@sarasiobhan, that it’s taken so long). Face to face with the start of LB’s inquest today, albeit in a slightly behind-the-sofa-peering-through-my-fingers kind of way.
And, in response to a suggestion from Rosi Reed of @, lighting a candle for LB.
But still cursing the darkness and the monsters that dwell in it.