One year ago I nearly died but I got over it thanks to the NHS

On the 19th February 2016 I had a stroke. That was a Friday, and it was at work. I thought it was a hot flush because you know, you don’t think a stroke as anything like a hot flush as from film and TV you think you’ll agonisingly clutch your side and you slip just out of shot as dramatic music plays in the background…

Yet the soap opera drama never seemed to stop. The ‘mass’ on my neck with contributed to my stroke (it was ‘bouncing on my jugular’ as one doctor put it) turned out to be papillary thyroid cancer, and last May I underwent an eight-hour operation to remove the tumour as well as the lymph nodes around it that it was safe to do so. Then I had a slipped disc partly brought on by the shift in my body that happened after my stroke, but added onto the stress I was undergoing thanks to the stroke recovery, the fact I was still working. My employer at the time acted in a manner where they were offering paper-thin support, barring my line manager and a few individuals. As a company they fucked up with two individuals in particular who are quite frankly, more interested in making themselves look good than the welfare of their employees. That added to the stress of worrying about dying while dealing with the imminent death of my father meant that 2016 was a bastard of a year that felt like this…


But on the 19th February 2017 I’m still alive having moved from Bristol to Glasgow in November last year to recuperate, recover and decide what to do next. Earlier this month my consultant told me I’m in remission thanks mainly to the superb work NHS staff in Bristol did in moving fast enough to act as the stroke brought to light my cancer at an early enough stage before it riddled my body so they took it out and when I finished my radiotherapy at the start of this month the chances of it returning are so small I no longer need to worry about it though I will have regular checks.

There’s a lot of bullshit being said about the NHS. It is under pressure, and several decades of both the Tories and Labour privatising it, or at least, opening it up for private exploitation while starving it of funding means it gets the sort of relentlessly negative stories we see on the news 24/7 yet for me, it saved me. The transition from NHS England to NHS Scotland was smooth beyond belief and my stroke recovery is now in the hands of a very capable physio who gets exactly what I want to get better. The irony is that a year on after from having not one, but two life-threatening incidents I’m coming out of this in better nick than I was going into it. I renewed my passport last January just before the stroke and looking at my passport picture I see a sick, unwell man. Looking at me now I feel healthier, although I still have bad days however good days are outnumbering them now though the boredom is creeping in which is far better than worrying about dying.

In less than a year my life has nearly ended, I’ve had major surgery, radiotherapy, a stroke, relearned how to write again and walk, moved cities and I’m still here. As for what’s next that’s something that’s going to become clear over the next month or so but I can’t thank the NHS enough for making sure I’m still here.

So, what’s next?

6 thoughts on “One year ago I nearly died but I got over it thanks to the NHS

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