Harrowing doesn't quite touch on that period. I suppose I was returned, if only second time farcically, to the storm and strain of inhospitality that even the best wards tend to offer. Fear of dying in such surrounds, fear of losing someone there, is now a part of what I need to work through - and I know I join millions who share my feelings.
Over summer 2009, worries and losses piled up, and by September 2009, I was suffering from - as long-time readers may recall - severe esophagitis (perhaps one of the most painful conditions). Every swallow, even water, was torment. I felt like (I was) dying. I became very depressed. Over the past five months I have come through a darkness such as I didn't expect to ever have to face. Each day has seen a slow step forward, with hope and health gradually improving, until, these days, I am back at work, not in 24-hour pain, and, to some degree, positive of outlook.
I still have the chronic condition, and have had to radically alter my lifestyle and diet. I now weight 67 kg, or around 10.5 stone, which means I am thinner than since I was 24, and can't drink wine or coffee currently. It's an odd back to the future purgatory. My work colleagues have been great, and teaching, which I love, is what I now do. I am about to turn 44. Middle age never felt like this before. Some days I feel old as the hills, but the mirror returns the face of a young man, doubtful, hopeful, tentative, determined. Full of love and vinegar.