The NHS is such a good thing and it would be insane of us to willingly let it go. I understand that as people start to live for longer and longer that resources will get stretched and the thing will become more expensive, but even so we need to find the money for it. By raising taxes for those that can afford it or buying less bombs. It has to be a priority. Because alternatively we all just have to pay money to a medical insurer or to private doctors anyway. It’s one of the best things about this country and the idea that we could let it go or be slowly but obviously dismantled seems insane to me.
We’ve very fortunate to be getting one of the top NHS hospitals for the birth of our child and the midwives and others we’ve met have been super efficient and friendly whilst dispensing advice and reassuring us about the worries that all new parents have. But in the last few months I’ve also been going in for various tests because of some borderline results from the medical I had in 2013. The things they’d spotted were actually all within the bounds of normality, but they wanted to check them because together they could point to the incredibly early signs of something that might mildly affect me in a decade or so. It’s been very minorly concerning at times, but mainly only cos the name of the thing they thought that I might have sounded a lot worse than it actually is. And because as I am becoming a dad, to think of my own mortality and how that would impact on the life of the human I am now responsible for. Having a child has not yet made me stop thinking that paedophile jokes are unacceptable, but it makes me a lot less happy about dying and missing out on knowing my child.
That initial medical where I was told to lose 25kg or have a 6% of dying in the next decade was enough of a wake-up call that I needed to get fitter. This other issue has reminded me that I am not going to live forever and that you can never be sure of what’s round the corner. In the nicest possible way, because I am not at any real risk, the thing I might or might not have is treatable and they’ve spotted the possibility of it being there very, very early. Because the NHS are great.
So I went to hospital today, feeling like a fraud. The norovirus and that persistent cold all gone and forgotten and I feel fitter and perkier than I can remember feeling. I was so full of energy on the morning walk that I wanted to break into a jog. I’ve been eating loads of vegetables, exercising regularly, scarcely drinking booze and I am about to become a dad. All this stuff is making me very happy. You’ve seen my brain, it’s beautiful and looks like the brain of a man of 46, not someone who is 47 and a half. At the hospital I waited with other people, most of whom were over 70 and many of whom looked properly ill. The younger people there generally had obvious signs of serious illness and here I was, in my running kit, feeling like doing some press ups or jogging up some stairs. I mean, if this was the start of the film I would definitely be told I had two months left to live.
I had got the times wrong and turned up an hour and a half early, but they saw me more or less straight away and the specialist who I met for the first time looked at my file with disdain and told me he was very unimpressed. And that that was a good thing. He didn’t quite tell me that I was wasting everyone’s time (and it wasn't like I had been the one to insist I was checke up), but it felt like that was on the tip of his tongue. He wouldn’t have made any fuss even from the original results, which he said fell more or less into the parameters of normal and that the blood test I’d had today had bumped up in the areas I was deficient. There were still a couple of things that needed keeping an eye on, but we were going to repeat a test that had thrown up a very mildly dodgy result and he’d see me again in six months and probably tell me to fuck off (not his exact words). Even in the worst case and I have the thing they thought I might have, then it’s not anything to massively worry about.
This kindly dismissive man made me feel a lot better about things, as did just comparing my cushy life to the other, largely cheerful patients in the waiting room. It’s good to be reminded that things don’t go on forever and you don’t have an infinite number of haircuts to endure, but it’s also a good feeling to know that the NHS is there, looking out for you, cautiously checking everything is OK and then doing its best to help you if things are not OK.
It doesn’t make for a great film - man who feels better than he’s ever felt turns out to be probably all right, but this is a better film to be starring in for the moment.
We’re all going to die, even though I still can’t really visualise it for myself, the trick is to make sure we enjoy the bit where we’re alive. I’ve got some stuff to live for now. If death had any respect he would have taken me in my thirties when I was no use to anyone. You can’t have me now, you prick. I’ve got people and cats to look after.
I have designed a T shirt as a prize for this month’s monthly subscriber monthly draw. It says “I Won Richard Herring’s Monthly Prize Draw and all I won was this frankly embarrassingly shitty T-shirt. Seriously a child could do better than this.” Then it has a picture of a ham hand, a suncream armpit and a 6ft tall penis man. It’s a real one-off which I couldn’t recreate even if I wanted to. If you’ve not yet signed up and want to have this T shirt (I reckon you will get at last £50 for it on eBay) then go to gofasterstripe.com
. You also get a badge, access to a channel of exclusive extras, special offers and advance notification of exciting RHLSTP guests and will be funding future projects like a monthly video version of AIOTM. You get one entry to every future draw for every pound a month you are donating.
And if you have seen that hand-made T shirt and thought I’d really like something as awful as that, then you can guarantee getting one, plus see twelve different ninety minute stand up shows for just £100 by buying tickets to all the King of Edinburgh Fringe season at the Leicester Square Theatre in August and September. Over twenty people have already done this which is way more than I was expecting. Luckily it only takes about twenty minutes for me to make a T shirt like this. Details of how to book for this show (and you don’t have to come to them all) and much much more are in this month’s newsletter.