An extract from The Alice Factor by Fyn Day...

Monday, 19:8:85. WJ's ward rounds at St Richard's and St Edward's. I don't think I will attend any more after today. Mr Tomlinson's prosthesis resembles a bad special effect from a gothic horror film. Both he and his wife were very positive about it, they love each other so much.

Mrs Corey-Blythe's nose looks wonderful. Of course, she has no idea that I had a hand in it (literally), but she chose to confide in me, expressing her tremendous disappointment. Evidently she believed rhinoplasty would cause her to lose three stone and twenty years. Apparently her husband was very disappointed too. Well I suppose cosmetic surgery is cheaper than divorce.

Back in Chichester. Mendip Ward. Allison died. She was still in her bed when I visited. 'You just missed her' her mother said. She still spoke of Allison in the present tense. I fumbled around in my heart for genuine feeling and came across a prayer. Unaddressed. I have no God to send it to. Why pray to a God who condoned Allison's death? Prayers are an admission of failure.

My sense of proportion returned. I won't make any real difference. This work is for my benefit. The competition for limited posts means that my very presence is keeping someone else out of the field. Reliance on modern medicine is a confidence trick anyway. A ruse to raise patient confidence in a successful outcome. Without guarantee of course. In the history of modern medicine we have eradicated only one disease, smallpox, and I know of many worse that we have caused to take its place.

William, and men like him, crudely hack out what can be seen, but not suppressed. My sense of proportion was perhaps a sense of worthlessness.

When Allison's father arrived his wife was barely able to support his sobbing frame. I watched his life vaporize. His aspirations, his fears, his hopes, his loves, his hates, all emptied out and taken away in the same body bag as his child. A swag bag holding Allison's stolen life.

I organised some hot sweet tea served in disposable cups. I watched lives emptying before me in a torrent of loss, and I held out a paper cup.

The Alice Factor
Fyn Day

ISBN 0 95 44983 0 5

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