The New Normal Is Not Normal


We turn right and go to the end of the corridor. Mr Hogan leads the way to his room. Still no one speaks as the blue carpet drifts by. He stands holding the door open and clicks it shut as we take a seat. The atmosphere is tense. Mr Hogan sits behind his desk and looks at me for an uncomfortably long moment. Continue reading

Goodbye To Life As I Know It


Michelle and I enter the waiting room as Lucy and Jack run to the play zone in the corner. I let a receptionist know I’m there, while Michelle gets the coffees in. We sit down, chat and watch the kids. There is a glass atrium over the central reception. I look up at the yellow, white and turquoise triangular sails that flow down from left to right and then upwards in a gentle arc. There are white zen-like pebbles lining the floor by each wall. The waiting room is about half full of patients. Our kids are excitedly playing in the plastic house, which they turn into a fort. Continue reading

Morphine Is Good


I arrive for the consultation a week later and Mr Hogan performs an endoscopy. A quick spray of anaesthetic and the fibre optic tube is inserted into a nostril. After a few moments, I’m asked to sniff and it goes in deeper. I close my eyes and try to control the urge to retch. Afterwards, Mr Hogan sits behind his desk and looks serious. The silence is uncomfortably long. Continue reading

Most Important Call Of My Life


During the summer, we go on a Spanish villa holiday with a secluded pool. Behind the villa, a mountain towers high with wisps of cloud contrasting the vivid blue sky. To the right, seemingly at its highest point, a single tree overlooks the valley below. Beyond the pool, steps flow downward toward a dry riverbed and, on the other side, a small hill rises up. The kids and I sneak around the spiky plants, the rhythmic buzz of the cicadas overhead, and hide whenever ‘Baddies’ drive past until we make our way back to the pool. We’re having a great time. The kids play in the water during the long, hot days. Michelle and I read by the pool, cooling off with a dip every now and then. Continue reading

Something Feels Wrong


A few days later, I have another consultation with the surgeon, Mr Hogan, who explains his take on what’s going on. Continue reading

How To Catch A Superbug


I wake up around an hour later in the recovery room and my head feels like it’s exploding. With pain relief administered, I’m wheeled back to my room where my wife, Michelle is waiting. I’m kept in hospital overnight and discharged the next day with co-codamol and tramadol for pain relief. After a day in bed, it’s Michelle’s birthday. I manage to get up and have some cake, but feel really ill. The room spins. I rush for the bathroom, lean over the sink and projectile vomit. Looking down, I see pebble-dashed blood, both fresh and congealed. I call for help and Michelle does her best to clean me up. I spend the rest of the day in bed. Continue reading

Going Under


It’s become more difficult to breathe through my nose and I’m referred to a surgeon. I attend a clinic with my wife, Michelle, and young kids, Lucy and Jack. We’re called into the small consulting room to meet Mr Hogan, who is at the top of his game. A very incisive man and willing to listen. He speaks in a soft Irish accent and I can’t get the gist of everything he says. We talk about my congestion and I’m sent for a CT scan. Continue reading

Stalked By A Nightmare


I stand in the cold air with night all around. To one side, shards of light pierce the blackness. Something moves in the distance. Almost imperceptible. There it is again. A dark shape, much bigger than me. It draws nearer in the silence. I back away and it bolts in my direction. My heart leaps. A hundred metres away, then seventy-five. I turn to run. Continue reading