20 Years Staying Strong


January afternoon and it’s nearly dark already. I’m still working in the call centre, it’s so painful typing with my amputated right arm and my rubbish prosthetic. It keeps on falling apart when I’m halfway through a call. I’ve become brilliant at improvising.

Waiting in reception late at night for my lift home, peering through the branches of a Christmas tree twenty feet high, looking for car headlights. Can’t believe December has come and gone. All that stuff. It took me six months to buy and wrap all the presents, and Nic was away in Florida for a week, I had to manage on my own.

Our children came home from university, it’s been lovely to see them. They’re our friends. I had a message to say that my Dad died. Haven’t seen him for over 40 years. He disowned us.

It’s been two decades now since my sepsis. This time in 2000, I was still in a coma and nobody knew if I was going to come back. I’m overwhelmed when I think about it all. So frightened and at the same time so grateful. Although I have to manage my fears about being so vulnerable and although everything is so tricky for me, I have lots of love in my life.

The hole on my left knee that I had for all of 2019 is nearly healed. My teeth are hurting I can never open my mouth wide enough for the dentist to see. My reconstructed face doesn’t flex properly, my mouth opening is tiny.

Staying strong for my family. We’re going to watch Leicester City v Aston Villa tonight. It’ll be brilliant. Freezing, fast and furious.

I wish I could get a job where I could write.

Meeting new friends tomorrow in Peterborough. We’ve been corresponding for a while but this is our first get together.

We’re strong. At the moment, amidst the winter darkness, I have to keep reminding myself of this. We’ve been through the toughest of tests – we can and we will survive. More than that – there is so much beauty all around us, in the way people are, in love. So life is good, we can connect, we can encourage, we can be helpful.

Nic and I went walking up at Hambleton down by Rutland Water on Sunday. Lots of memories of when we lived there at Post Office Cottage. We only hold on to the good ones.