So I’m back once again in the bloggery, weighing just a little more than I did a week ago by virtue of the addition of two metal screws in my foot. I shan’t however, be going far for a while. I’ve a cast on my foot which has to remain there for the next four weeks. And I’m on crutches. That was a surprise. I was under the impression I was going to escape that. But given the bizarre medical boot which I have to wear over the cast when I move around – a boot the size of a Centurion tank – I’m actually glad of their assistance, even though just getting about the flat on them doing the most ordinary things is a domestic assault course. Going along the straight as one would along a pavement for example, is relatively straightforward. It’s the twisting around the tight corners of a sitting room, weaving around the furniture and trying to avoid getting the foot of one or other crutch caught up among chair legs that puts the strain on you.
But I am not complaining. The problem with my foot had been building over at least twenty years and had, this year, made it at the very least inadvisable for W and I – accompanied by the faithful Ruby – to go all that far from home. It had developed an unpleasant habit of suddenly and through no apparent mishap, flaring up and becoming extremely painful, putting me on my back for days at a time. In this way it completely erased a week’s holiday in the early part of this year.
So that’s over and I’m very grateful to the team of clinicians who took me through it. I’ve had four operations under general anaesthesia in my life and still it amazes me that holes for screws, then screws themselves, metal plates and all manner of metal and plastic pipework can be inserted into your body, pieces of your self taken out, pieces of someone else put in, without your feeling a thing and from which – with luck and God willing – you and the body recover and carry on as before.
The clinical expertise and care I received were excellent. For all that to have been free is wonderful. If this – or any subsequent UK government manages to so screw the National Health Service that this sort of thing becomes either not available or available only to those who can afford it, then this country, this battered, confused and – in my view – rather lost land should hang its head in shame. And indeed there are ominous signs we may just be starting down some such path. We need to be watchful. A society loses its heart, its integrity, its edge not by some huge, massively reported overnight catastrophe, but by tiny, slow, almost undetectable increments. We are, I believe, approaching a critical point in our history.