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Monday, 8 June 2015

My Physical Condition

A few weeks ago, as I was on my way to bed, I collapsed. I do not remember losing consciousness or hitting the floor. I phoned for an ambulance and was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary. They admitted me and performed a myriad of tests: Electro-cardiogram, Echo-cardiogram, Angiogram etc., etc. They concluded that my aortic valve was defective and should be replaced. I felt no anxiety at all.

After more than two weeks in hospital, I was scheduled for surgery. However, on the very day it was to happen, they discovered MRSA on my skin and determined that this meant that open-heart surgery was too risky. I was discharged. I was put on a regime of body washes and nasal cream to eliminate the bacteria. They would not operate until I had provided three negative swabs from my nose and from my groin. So far I have had two negative results and am waiting for the results of the third next week. If it is negative, I will be admitted for surgery. I still feel no anxiety. I certainly hope that the result is negative and that I get the operation in short order. It’s not so much that I want them to save my life but that I want my ‘quality of life’ to be improved.

I can honestly say that fear of death does not feature in my thoughts. I would like to have more energy. Undergoing the procedure is necessarily risky. There will necessarily be a period of discomfort as I recuperate. I remain in excellent spirits. I regard myself as being undeservedly lucky – particularly with respect to my three sons, three daughters-in-law, three grandsons and two granddaughters. I became a Catholic less than ten years ago. I am a ‘serious’ Catholic. In other words, my world view is informed by my faith. My lack of anxiety is indubitably, at least in part, a consequence of my Catholicism. I always knew that I was mortal, that life is a sexually transmitted and always fatal disease – of course, it far more than that.

My sometime hairdresser tragically lost a child and, consequently, her faith. She suffered what most of us would agree to be the ultimate catastrophe. But she was wrong. She had always known that children sometimes die. That her child died is/was, from a logical point of view, irrelevant. I feel cruel to point this out. It does not diminish my pity and grief one whit.

My life has been, in comparison with billions, extraordinarily fortunate: never hungry, never tormented with other than ordinary worries.

The professionalism of those who cared for me in the MRI was exemplary. I am still not persuaded about socialised medicine.

State education is inferior to private education in almost every case. In some poor countries poor people choose to pay for their children’s education rather than send them to free government schools. In our country we have seen how miserably the state ran car manufacturers. Why should medicine be different from anything else? Why should medicine not benefit from competition and deregulation? We would not contemplate state run supermarkets. Food is surely as important as health care.

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