Wednesday, November 2, 2022

pill mountain

This photo by Cheviot was inspired by a Canadian support group for long-haulers, whose members have been making playful images of their daily pill ration as a way to bring some humour to a challenging disease.

It reminded me of a similar playful composition I made a dozen years ago, when I was trying to recover from swine flu and it's shadow. I am now back to peak pill, and have as many colourful capsules and tablets each morning as I had back then.

In the Summer of 2020 I joined Body Politic, an online community for people with Long Covid. Many of us are now veterans of two-and-a-bit years illness. We vent, encourage one another, damn harmful treatments, offer empathy, handy tips, suggest what videos to watch, and how to negotiate consultations with ill-informed healthcare workers. 

We also suggest remedies that seem to help,  remedies that don’t help, remedies that made us worse, and advice how to source herbs and supplements, or meds that are unavailable on the NHS. 

Until medicine catches up–and it surely is slow–we are our own doctors. 

Photographs like these record the most challenging episode in our lives. We're ingesting nuggets of nature, tinctures, and balms, to coax our bodies towards recovery and tamp down the over-responsiveness of an immune system in crisis. 

Some journalists express concern that we are being taken advantage of by snake oil salesman. It may be that not all, or only a few, remedies help much, and there is a risk of harm. That's why we share our experiences. What those journalists never mention is that we get few or no treatments from the doctor. At least in seeking out and trying these remedies we gain some agency over our disease.

For now, unable to access summits, the pill mountain is where we do our climbing.


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