I went to hospital on Monday to see a consultant to check up on the moles I’ve been worrying about. Here’s what I tapped out on my iPhone as I sat waiting to go in:
It scares the living sh1t out of me. Just walking here brings deep anxiety to the surface. My heart rate is up, I’m conscious of my chest.
We don’t see illness and death unless we go looking for it these days, but here it all is. Everyone you look at you don’t know if they’re losing their life or here to save them. Especially the older people.
The NHS is fantastic, but support staff sometimes look right through you. Two members of staff are currently hailing each other down the length of a corridor in front of me, while I sit here with several others wondering whether fate has something lethal, painful or banal in store.
I will likely end my life in one of these places. And in this very hospital we witnessed the start of life too – my son was born here. But this hospital despite its cleanliness and modernity reeks more of entropy, human decline and infirmity than life.
It brings back my melanoma which is why I am here. I don’t want to die here, but maybe I will.
It turned out to be banal. That’s the weird thing about health. Like life, you take it for granted for much of your life, although you know you shouldn’t. But also, like life, you have to take it for granted – to some extent – otherwise you don’t make the best of it.
In the space of five minutes lethal turns to banal and in the space of five days fear to insouciance. I’m glad it’s this way round. But the useful goad to action, which having melanoma on my mind has been, is something I now need to find from a happier more positive place.
Reading my old friend Aristotle again sat on a tube ride yesterday – and talking to half a dozen different really thought-provoking people this week – I have some emerging ideas…