‘You’ve been right to the edge: the only thing that’s got you through is your positivity.’

Mr Jain – Head of Urology, (Jimmy’s), and my consultant and surgeon.

From Anthea: 5th December: 5 hour op to remove bladder.   Melissa and I visited you on the High Dependency Ward and you were as high as a kite. John and Anna were regular visitors too although most of the time they sat beside an unconscious figure with all sorts of tubes going in.   6th December: High Dependency Ward – chatty. 7th December: Walked to nurses’ station, spoke on ‘phone, still high.   7th – 13th December: Ward 52 recovering. Evening of 13th wound burst open and a bowel infection was found both needing emergency operation 2-4 a.m. performed by Mr Jain called from home.   Back on High Dependency Ward,   15th December: Inhalation of bile caused toxic burning inside lung leading to aspiration pneumonia.   Fought vigorously with male nurses inserting tube down throat – ‘The strongest patient I’ve ever had to deal with’ – nurse.   Bile removed.   Major organs compromised.   Intensive Care Unit on ventilator for breathing.   15th-20th December: Intensive Care on full sedation.   20th: Sedation reduced and ventilator removed. Very paranoid. 21st December-3rd January: Recovering on Ward 52.

When I got home, I was utterly exhausted and could only walk very slowly.   I could just about manage the stairs.  

As Anthea has written, my memories of my hospital stay are incomplete – especially of the earlier part.   I can only remember accurately the last few days on Ward 52 where I was groomed for discharge. Earlier than that I was unconscious, semi-conscious, or experiencing a waking, paranoid nightmare whose terrors I can’t express in words.   It was a labyrinth of inexorable and terrifying doom and very realistic.   I was the victim of masterminds who had me caught in an ineffable, logical, inescapable, infinite programme of physical and psychological horrors, the latter punishing me for fictitious misdeeds over which I experienced dread guilt.   I believe the paranoia was caused by the pain-killer, morphine: as well as being drip- fed I later had a patient-control gun of the stuff.

The waking nightmare overlapped into real life so that, when I saw my consultant, Mr Jain, who I like and respect a lot, I shouted ‘Oh not you, too.   I trusted you’.   Everyone I saw was part of the conspiracy.

The delusional events were as real as real life. I spent one night in my bed in a field under the stars with staff talking about books in tents behind me.   I remember on Ward 52, maybe just a few days before discharge, saying excitedly to Anthea ‘You’ll never believe who was here earlier.   Just visited briefly and left.   Only Peter Schmeickle!’   Anthea wasn’t impressed: ‘It was Ho Chi Minh last week’.

As I write, it’s 8th February and I’m just back from my longest walk yet – twenty minutes or so round Otley Market.   When I got back, I wasn’t particularly tired but glad of a sit down.   Apart from two setbacks – brief infections – I’m making painfully slow progress towards getting my mojo back.


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