15 March 2008


I have just found out that Potentilla has died. It's not a surprise. It's not a shock. The first thing that I ever learnt about her was that she was dying. She knew. The world knew.

The first time I ever saw the name Potentilla was when out of the blue a comment was made on my blog. Although the blog has now largely been taken down and searching the comments electronically is not possible, I do remember her first comment. In due course I will find it but for now my memory must suffice. As best I can remember she said simply that she had been lurking for a while and had decided to make a comment. I think she also said something complimentary about the blog. I instantly thought that there was something a bit special about Potentilla. I can't now quite remember why but it was plain from her very first comment that she was not shooting from the hip and that her comments were likely to be very considered and well-informed. I turned out to be right. I must also admit that I was a bit worried to find myself entering some sort of relationship with somebody who was a patient and was dying. What if she started asking me about what sort of treatment to undergo next? That would be awkward. But Potentilla was far more sensible than that.

My blog developed over time. It was much stronger when I took it down than when I started it. Perhaps to some extent this would have happened anyway but, possibly unknown to her, Potentilla played an important part in melding and shaping my blog. Many of my posts were written hurriedly. Often I took only the time it takes to type out the letters. Good writing needs more than that. And checking facts takes time I do not always have. As a result there would be weak arguments or factual errors. When there were, Potentilla would pounce. I never, of course, met her but there seemed to be a formidable element to her. I often would worry that Potentilla might tear a post to shreds. If she did her criticism always had a sound basis. I do recall that she once savaged a post that I created in only a few moments. None of the work was my own. I had cut and pasted from dnuk. I had thought the points made were good ones. But Potentilla did not. She was, of course, right. She was so fired up that she had failed to notice that I was posting the views of somebody else. She did spot this eventually and then paid me a compliment by suggesting that she thought I must have gone doolally until she realised that I was just cutting and pasting. I knew then that with Potentilla out there I needed to be sure of my ground before hitting the publish button. I missed her when she did not comment on something I thought she would be interested in. I knew that it was because she was unwell. Then quite suddenly, to my relief, she would reappear and without asking I would know that she was feeling better. And now Potentilla is no longer out there. But she is still having an influence. If I ever start blogging again (this post is a one off) I will not hit the send button until I have carefully considered what Potentilla's response might have been.

Potentilla's real name was Christian Jago. She knew my real name. I didn't tell her. She found out by piecing together information in the blog. I knew my secret was safe with her. I had no doubt about that. She did not hide her own identity. I knew her real name from the start. But for me she will always be Potentilla.

If there are still any readers of this blog (I don't check to see any more) they may notice that I am now writing in the first person. Dr Grumble wrote in the third person. Potentilla objected to that too. But only once. The third person was a way of distancing me from Dr Grumble. But for this post, my small tribute to Potentilla, I don't want to distance myself.

If you have not already done so you can read Dr Crippen's tribute here.

1 comment:

Dr Aust said...

Well said, Dr G.

I wasn't shocked to read Christian / Potentilla had died, since her blog had said she in the hospice. But it is sad to think she is no longer around to correct us. Like you I will miss her intellect, though not just that.

I remember when we were once discussing, over at Dr Crippen, blustering pro-CAM types, who were repeating the usual stuff about "people should not be oppressed by the big Pharma conspiracy", patients should choose CAM which would prevent their cancers with supplements etc etc.

She posted:

"I say "no" to cancer quite often but does it listen to me? Does it hell."

As an example of her total lack of self-pity that sort of sums it up for me.