I finally had my operation today. I will not got into precise details because, for all I know, you may be about to have your tea. Suffice to say a small lump was removed from near my nether regions, happily benign and bloody painful. It was an incredible experience.

I was told to be at Southmead hospital at 9.00 am. By 9.10 I was being examined, lots of questions asked. 9.50 I walked to theatre. Walked to theatre. In all my previous ops, I was pushed there. I lay down, was administered industrial strength pain killers and the next thing I knew – at around 10.45, I was in my little room with my lovely nurse. I came round quickly and was brought two cups of coffee with toast. By 12.00 I was up and about, having seen the consultant and his assistant doctor (I am not good with names and titles) who pronounced the operation a success. By 13.30 I was on my way home, by 13.45 I was shopping in Sainsburys wearing a neat line in white surgical stockings. And so on.

It was an incredible experience because the whole thing was utterly professional and I was treated not like a number but as a real human being. In other words, the people who worked there did so because they wanted to be there to make people better in an organisation that is not run for profit. I was cared for by people from Spain, Aruba, Devon, New Zealand, Greece, India and of course the UK. At no point did I feel like telling these people to return to their own countries because I wanted to end free movement and take back control. No. These people were the best of the best.

As evening approaches, I am slightly spaced out, a little tired and weary and above all appalled that I am not allowed to drink alcohol for 24 long hours. (I would like to point out that I did not ask the question about alcohol in the hope that there was no reason for the matter to arise. Oh well.) And I am a little sore in an area you would much rather not be sore.

Southmead Hospital, with its airport style ‘gates’ may appear all mod cons and cold, but trust me it isn’t. Walk through the doors and you can feel, almost see, its beating heart. I was very grateful for my treatment, humbled by the commitment of the staff and volunteers and proud to be British.


Nurse: “And you cannot drink alcohol for 24 hours!”
Me: NO?!?
Cath: (frowns)