As much as I love the idea, I am unlikely to ever be one of those extraordinary, rule-breaking innovators who turns the world upside down by rejecting the regulations in front of him and ploughing his own controversial, inventive furrow.
Those who have known me for a while are unlikely to be surprised at this; after all, my life is littered with examples of good behaviour, many of which probably played an important role in my modest successes to date. Which is not to say that I am a simple drone, doing as I’m told without questioning – I’m afraid my boss knows all too well that if I disagree with the way something is done, I shan’t hesitate to let my feelings and ideas be known (sorry, Dan!).
Generally speaking, though, if there’s a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass’, I will do exactly that, reasoning that there’s a very good reason someone wants people to stay off the grass. In the kitchen, Mariacristina is a wildly brilliant cook, often ignoring the traditional, proven recipes in favour of what she reckons might work – usually with fabulous consequences. I, on the other hand, am a bog-standard, acceptably average cook, rigidly stick to a recipe – to the point of panic if I accidentally deviate – I reason has been tried and tested by someone else; resulting in pretty bog-standard, acceptably average food.
Our differing approaches to instructions led to a clash not long before I came into hospital. I had a pain in the, erm, buttock (probably pesky lymphoblasts) and was using heat patches to relieve it. The advice was to use them for up to three days, so sure enough, after three days, I wanted to stop, but Mariacristina suggested the benefits of the pain relief meant it worth carrying on. I won (it was my bum, after all), reasoning that somebody who knew far more about these things than me would have put that advice on the packet for a reason.
The good news about all this is that I make for a good patient: when it comes to life-threatening diseases and intensive treatment, it’s generally not a good idea to pick and choose which instructions to follow. One of the nurses expressed surprise that I was, as instructed, having my eyedrops every two hours (“You’re the first patient I’ve known who actually does that!”) and spending a full minute swishing (that’s the word on the box, I think) my mouthwash before spitting it out. But I can’t imagine why anybody would do any different – if this is the best way to ward off conjunctivitis and mucositis, surely it’s worth the annoyance?!
The consequences of not following the instructions here can be terrible. I remember – last time I was in – a lady in Room 6 whose husband offered to lend me a hard drive full of films and TV programmes; one day I learnt that against the advice of the doctors, she had checked herself out of the ward. It didn’t end well.
I, on the other hand, will continue to bow to the vastly superior medical knowledge of my advisors. “Jump? Certainly. How high?”