On a good day this strange territory that I am occupying can have a bizarre liberation. It is uncharted land, there are no signposts. No maps, no indications of where I am or where I can go. It is up to me to make of it what I wish.
So I can go anywhere. Only, of course, I can’t. Or at least at a pace that I find satisfying. It is slow, of that there is no question; it is slow because my pace is slow. I have to stop frequently to recover. And I can get no help to make that recovery because there are no people. There is absolutely no one that I can turn to, no one can help me. No advice, support, no medication, no treatment, and no monitoring of the deterioration.
No people, and on a bad day that is what is impossible and nightmarish.
This absence of people is baffling to friends.
Even the NHS direct advisor I spoke a few weeks ago couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Our conversation was punctuated by stunned silences. “But,” she said, “ Surely there are on-going investigations?” “Nope.” I said. Silence. “Are you telling me that you do not have a consultant?” “Yup.” “GP?” “They can’t do anything.” “Oxygen?” “Nope. I’m not bad enough, and you can’t have oxygen unless you have an identifiable condition. There is no diagnosis so no condition. Officially there is nothing the matter with me. All the consultants have discharged me.”
Silence. “Because it is not a new problem I can’t do anything,” she finally said, “But as soon as you come off the phone I want you to phone your GP surgery and insist on seeing a GP today.” I agreed, but as it was three o’clock on a Thursday afternoon I didn’t of course. “And you must phone emergency services if you are struggling to breathe.” “That would be ten o’clock every night then.”
So it is an uninhabited landscape. There are no companions, or fellow pilgrims.