I’m very dismayed. I’ve been watching reports about the sheer pandemonium the NHS is facing as Covid strikes back, and the usual winter pressure kicks in.  It’s a sodding nightmare. I’ve worked in the NHS this time of year, and bugger me it’s hard graft. Double shifts are just a way of life. But when I was working in the NHS, all we had to face was influenza, and that weird winter vomiting thing. Pile on Covid…

Here’s the thing. Here’s why I feel guilty. I rocked up at hospital back in March. Out of the blue. I walked in the door, with what I thought was cancer, and I was right, suddenly I was in a bed, right in the middle of the first Covid peak. No questions. You need help, come on in.

Now as it happens, I should not feel guilty. Another three weeks after I presented, if I hadn’t presented, it would have been too late, probably. I’d have been untreatable. I’d have been doomed. But the NHS gathered me to its bosom and lopped some very dangerous bits out of my mouth, nurtured me in the aftermath, gave me more care and clever, dedicatedly varied support than I had even thought about.

I needed help, serious help, NOW! and the NHS didn’t bat an eyelid. I was in surgery almost before I knew it. And now the NHS can’t cope too well. I didn’t queue jump. I was prioritised. ‘We have to treat this man NOW or he’s going to die.’

I still feel guilty a bit. But I am still alive. Thank you, NHS. You did me proud.

But I did them proud too, if I may say that. The nursing staff loved dealing with me. One of the staff nurses said to me, ‘We all like being around you. We much prefer hanging around you than with the whiners. You’re always polite, you don’t complain, you don’t ask for the impossible, you’re compliant if occasionally questioning. And you have a very dry gallows humour. A sense of humour goes a long way with us. You are our perfect patient.’ She turned to one of the nursing trainees she was mentoring. ‘Trust me, he is the perfect patient. You won’t meet many like him.’

So I did them proud too, didn’t I?