Friday, 11 September 2009

The continuing journey

This has been a week of medical treatment. I started off on Tuesday with having blood taken to see if chemotherapy was possible and although blood platelets have fallen to 85, it has been decided it should go ahead as planned although the next chemo may be postponed to allow for recovery. Then in the afternoon I went to the hospital to have pentamidine which is supposed to improve my immunity which is suppressed during chemo.

Last time they mislaid my file and I had to wait one and a quarter hours and this time the drug was late arriving so we waited one hour. I then go into a room to connect up the tubes (the nurses are not allowed in) and breath in oxygen for ten minutes after which I reconnect the tubes and put in the pentamidine which I then breathe in for about 20 minutes; the smell and taste are vile and I always feel wobbly afterwards.

Wednesday and Thursday I had chemo at home and I am lucky enough to have the same BUPA nurse who is really very friendly and professional. On Wednesday night the steroids kept me awake as usual all night so I just stayed up and read. I was able to sleep a little better last night thank goodness. Today I have a very expensive injection which also boosts immunity.

My inbox was full of communications from PCVAI, a group which I recently joined composed of donor conceived adults. The current discussion centres round whether sperm donors should be referred to as parents/fathers and is very thought-provoking. Words are very important in our lives and much of the terminology surrounding our situation has been provided first of all by the medical profession and later by the legal profession. When I communicate with people on a personal level we flounder around trying to find vocabulary which means something to us so often the person who has brought us up is called a social father.

The terminology is all new to me but words aren’t because as an English teacher I know that the precision of words is vital to our understanding and communication. I also realise that those people who have defined words for us have been in greater positions of power. Just look at the number of pejorative words connected to women and you can see how the female sex has been kept in a box for so long e.g. master/mistress, bitch, cat etc.

As donor conceived adults we weren’t around when this terminology was created and our parents were often surrounded not only by the mystique of the medical profession but the secrecy of the process and almost a sense of shame about their own fertility or lack of it. Many professions deliberately use jargon to upgrade what they do and make even intelligent people feel they lack knowledge and power. My own view is that a sperm donor is a parent in the true sense of the word because they had aided reproduction. However, I lack all knowledge of my donor parent and his forebears. Whilst I don’t need a Dad at my age, I do need knowledge. Many children of single parents lack knowledge of their paternity, but my knowledge has been deliberately withheld and this has been sanctified by the laws and the medical profession.

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