I won’t win the Dublin marathon tomorrow. I won’t even come second. Or third.

I’m hopeless. Right?

Not sure what Pádraig was thinking when I told him today that I’ll be doing the marathon tomorrow. Maybe he got used to the idea of long distance runs where speed is not the issue but perseverance is.

Truth is, I won’t be running to win. But I’ll still be running. Each time I’m ‘running’ one of these marathons I’m so tempted to give up and to just get the bus home. It seems like such an easy way out. It’s when I think my attempts at marathons are just hopeless. – So far, I’ve kept moving. Regardless. So far, I’ve made it to the finishing line. (And I’ve no pride left to loose.)

Marathons are hard, even for slow runners.

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The following is harder. As all taboos are. But taboos are like Rumpelstizchen. Once you call them by their name, they first loose their evil force and then they disappear.

I’ve realised, the more I’ve heard people talk about persons with severe brain injury,  that many, including many in health professions, consider them to be hopeless cases. To a point that they believe, and at times say, and at times say it in the presence of a person with a severe ABI, that it might have been better had they died. They mean well…

Of course, affording appropriate and ongoing costly treatment to someone who you believe would have been better off dead doesn’t arise. The only question that arises is how to “maintain” that person. Very often, this involves drugs, tubes, and artificial feeds because, apparently, this keeps down the cost and, in any way, it doesn’t make any difference to the person concerned – at least this seems to be a widespread believe, including in the health professions.

This is the point where I feel like getting my posters and banners out, and setting my social network channels on fire.

Because the thought, never mind the outspoken word, and especially by those supposed to care for and supposed to treat the injured person, that the injured person might have been better off dead, is just not acceptable. Personally, I find it intolerable, even abhorrent.

There are no hopeless cases, no hopeless illnesses, no hopeless injuries – none of us is God. There is no reason whatsoever that could conceivably serve as justification to deny anyone treatment, therapy, or care – and to just “maintain” them. No matter whether a person has cancer. Or a kidney disease. Or cystic fibrosis. Or motor neurone disease. Or a severe acquired brain injury.

I might be a hopeless runner. Persons with a severe acquired brain injury are not hopeless patients. Because they are alive, and they have decided to stay alive.

“Maintenance” is for cars. Not for persons. They deserve more.

PS: If you’d like to meet up for a pint tomorrow after the marathon, meet us in Toners Pub, Baggot Street.