You’ll be sorry (or glad) to hear that there’ll be a bit of a gap in these blogs soon. For a change, though, I’ve got a good excuse. I’m due to have a heart valve replaced and apparently that’ll keep me out of action for a while. In fact, the embarrassing bit was reading the pamphlet with a list of things I must avoid doing after the operation – embarrassing because I don’t do any of them anyway. I don’t say this with any pride – it’s just a fact. Examples of the activities listed are: dusting, making and stripping beds, window cleaning (indoors), ironing, vacuuming, using the oven – you get the picture.
Naturally enough, Sod’s Law is involved too because the need for the operation’s come along at one of those rare times when I have several important dates in the calendar. Few things are more important than health, of course, but I don’t like the idea of letting others down when I’ve committed to contribute things for events in the next few weeks and am part of some planning for future events, too.
The operation itself will be a source of more material for future stories. I just hope that the surgeon isn’t a fan of crime fiction. If he is, he may have read Shadow Selves, which features a surgeon who’s not a very pleasant individual. As the anaesthetic begins to kick in, I don’t want to be wondering whether the saw and scalpel wielding presence beside me with the evil rictus behind his mask has vengeance in mind.
But the main thought which has to be expressed is one of gratitude that I live in a country which, for all its flaws, still attends to the health of all its citizens, not just those who can afford it. The equipment, the theatre teams, the after care, the medication and the ongoing monitoring will cost me nothing. OK, I’ve paid plenty in National Insurance contributions over the years, but even if I hadn’t, the complete service would still be free. How much longer that’ll be the case it’s impossible to say. Our government is in the process of dismantling an institution that’s looked after us since World War II. Pretty soon, private companies, with shareholders to reward, will be coming in to cream off profits. When you’ve been the beneficiary of free healthcare for so long, such changes make no sense.
By the way, the last time I was at the hospital – for the tests to see what was wrong with my heart – the place was overrun with media people – press, TV, radio, the lot. I felt humbled that news of my condition should be sought so eagerly. It was only when I was preparing my answers to the inevitable interviews they’d be seeking that I discovered that the Duke of Edinburgh’s bladder had been infected with something and he’d come to join me. But I was able to dream for a while..