#You'll Be Okay
On standby, as a paramedic in Birmingham, parked up in my RRV (rapid response car), I began collecting data. I didn't really know why, but soon I had a set of information about my activity, and I experimented with methods of illustration and abstraction.
Around the same time, I was reading Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. He discussed how people in extreme situations used counting within survival strategies. What I was doing suddenly made sense: a therapeutic output necessary for my own survival as a frontline clinician.
There were two quotes at the end of the prologue, I wasn't ready for the first, but I copied out the Kierkegaard quote, folded the crisp sheet of paper and put it in the breast pocket of my beautiful, green, Keela jacket. There it remained, with laminated cheat sheets for apgars and algorithms, removed and replaced at laundry, and, at solitary moments, for contemplation. The supple, creased sheet now rests in my notebook, its ink is faded, and it has the softness of old blotting paper.
A "you'll be okay blanket" was a fictitious remedy for someone who didn't need any medical interventions, often applied with "there, there cream". Whilst not intended to be malicious the term was sarcastic and dismissive. As a clinician ticking PTSD boxes, if such a thing really existed, I needed one. I made my own "blanket", in the form of a quilt utilising data to generate pattern. I was making things to protect myself. I understand the first quote now.
The farther one goes
The less one knows
—Tao Te Ching
Quilt detail: embroidered sleep data.
Printed sweatshirt detail.
Abstracted journeys: layered maps.
Paper cranes made from equipment testing strips of ECG graph paper.
You'll Be Okay stickers.
Decision making tool.