To live a life beyond illness

“I’m acutely conscious of how dependent I am on those who built and sustained the NHS – including, pre-eminently, generations of labour movement activists and socialists. And as I sit with my IV drip, I’m mindful of those in government and business who would smash the delicate mechanism of the hospital and shatter the network of dependence that sustains me.
I’m being kept alive by the contributions of so many currents of human labour, thought, struggle, desire, imagination. By the whole Enlightenment tradition, but not only that: by older traditions of care, solidarity, mutuality, of respect for human life and compassion for human suffering. The harnessing of science, technology and advanced forms of organisation and information to compassionate ends is by no means automatic. It leans on and is only made possible by the conflict-riddled history of ethical and political development.
Beautiful as it is, this network of dependence is also frightening. Restrictions in capacity and mobility are hugely frustrating, and relying on others to supplement them is not a straightforward business – for patient or carer. I often feel I’m engaged in a never-ending battle for autonomy. I fight it out in relation to institutions, experts, medications, means of mobility, forms of diet. Not to mention the vital effort to live a life beyond illness, to hold on to that kernel of freedom that makes you who you are.”

Mike Marqusee