Life is predictably unpredictable

The past week has reinforced 3 basic truisms of life (mine, anyway)

1. You cannot predict the future

2. Timing is everything

3. Most of us spend too much of our lives not questioning

Truism 1 – Yang to yin in an instant: Sunday began really well. I’d had a reasonably good sleep after my arrival in Delhi the night before and was looking forward to two weeks of productive work. I bargained with a taxi driver to go to the Old City. (He assured me that I was the first customer in his new taxi.) I then hired a bicycle rickshaw for a tour of the main drag to take in the sights, and smells. Back to the hotel, via a mall, for a burger.

All good, until about 3pm, when I began to get pains in my left side. I spent the night in agony, unable to get much sleep. In desperation, I got the hotel doctor to come, who diagnosed and treated food poisoning. I missed my first day at work.

I forced myself to go to the office on Tuesday and struggled through summarising some documents and an important meeting. I had two more visits from the hotel doctor because the pain had moved to my right abdomen. As I headed for the office on Wednesday, he gave me a number for a second opinion.

Truism 2 – Procrastination can be fatal:

Arriving at the office, I greeted a few colleagues. The Operations Manager was concerned and suggested I see a good doctor she knew.



I suggested I could wait until after work, but she said to just go – as it turned out, an excellent choice.

The clinic was about 45 minutes away, and seemed chaotic. However, it didn’t take too long to see the doctor. She suggested appendicitis, but I had to do an ultrasound to confirm. When we got the results, she said I needed to see a good surgeon she knew.



On the way, the Operations Manager rang and I told her what had happened, She suggested that I come back to the office to plan the next step. However, I realised that I would be spending hours more in traffic, so decided to get it over and done with – excellent choice No.2.

I was straight in to see the surgeon, who had been contacted by the doctor and he said he would need to operate.



He sent me straight off to do the paperwork (and pay most up front). I was fine until I had to sign the form agreeing that it was a “high risk” procedure, because of my blood thinners. However, within four hours of arriving I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit having had my ruptured appendix removed.

Truism 3 – Life is better for all of us when we stop to really question why things are the way they are:

Unlike when I was last enjoying the delights of an ICU, 6 months ago, I was fully cognizant with what was going on (unlike the rest of my less-fortunate ward mates). Hospitals are a terrific metaphor for how we go blindly through life without questioning what has always been.

For example, if you wanted people to take longer to heal you might:

– have bright lights on the ceiling, most of the time, so that patients had difficulty sleeping

– make sure that every machine makes a NOISE!!!!

– make sure that is impossible to sleep for more than about 45 minutes, by scheduling constant interruptions

Sounds more like Guantanamo Bay? In my experience, most hospitals are like this. However, I’ve only mentioned hospitals because they are topical. In society, there are are too many institutions/systems the operations of which seem to go against their very purpose because they cling, unquestioningly, to out-dated paradigms – after all, I work in education. (Read the brewery story)

So many important advances in society have only come about because someone has looked around and thought “This doesn’t make sense”, and then done something about it.

Postscript – the doctors and nurses at the hospital have been excellent, although there are other aspects of the experience less so.


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