One person won’t change the world, two will

24 March 2015

It happens sometimes that medical personnel get to take part in one or other training, organized by EHRN. I met this young doctor from Lithuania on such an occasion some time ago. There were several of them, country representatives, all active and positive, even maximalist in their approach towards the naloxone issue in their homeland, determined to turn the world upside down at a wink of an eye. I have seen people getting aspired to act and bring changes in the system many times, and yet I was surprised by the will sparkling in their eyes to actually GO and DO things. I did not want to turn them down by saying that this might not be that simple…

It was not until later that they encountered first obstacles and we met again to talk over our actions and the support we could offer to each other. The young doctor then spoke to me for the first time about him being part of a hierarchical system and that he found it against “rules” to start prescribing naloxone on his own initiative.

“I do teach my patients and my students, I explain things to my colleagues sometimes, but I have not been prescribing it yet”

“Yes,“ I said (as I have been taught to start conversations with a sign of agreement) “ but then it all loses the point. Instructing people how to manage overdose and refusing to give them a prescription to buy the actual medicine… it makes no sense, you see”.

The fear to act differently than the system tells you, I assumed, must have been lost years and years ago, during all this period of resistance of our nation, and there I was – facing a person who wanted to save lives but feared do be a “dissident” as he put it. He knew it was not against any law, he admitted it could do no harm, he understood that this is a lifesaving act and he kept fighting his own mind, the one that persisted telling him that we are not to take individual decisions.

This week I received an email:

„Upon my patients‘ departure from the clinic I instruct them and kindly give them an ampoule of naloxone. Those after detox receive it as well. I bought several boxes of naloxone myself... I ask them to pay 1 euro or simply give it away to them. I am still not completely happy with this activity“

The last sentence made me chuckle – people’s minds change over time… slowly but steadily if we keep trying!

                                                                                    

The fear to act differently than the system tells you, I assumed, must have been lost years and years ago, during all this period of resistance of our nation, and there I was – facing a person who wanted to save lives but feared do be a “dissident” as he put it. He knew it was not against any law, he admitted it could do no harm, he understood that this is a lifesaving act and he kept fighting his own mind, the one that persisted telling him that we are not to take individual decisions.