26 October 2017
The new medical expert has a very quiet voice and I have to lean forward a bit in an effort to hear what she is carefully explaining. I think I like her. She doesn't make a face when I pull out my phone and open the list of questions I had prepared earlier. What app are you using, she wants to know before she whispers her detailed answers.
I know she said that I look well and healthy, that there are certain tests and examinations she wants to carry out, but that I need to take this medicine for ten days beforehand, that she will make a note in my file for the switchboard to give me priority when I am ready to call her, that I should not think of the t word or the c word. And that she wants me to consider maybe not working the three hours I have managed - poorly - in the last couple of weeks.
We part almost as friends for life.
Outside, the air is mild, people are eating ice cream, I walk into the bookshop and briefly hold that bestselling book on miracles in medicine in my hands. It has a nice cover. I don't dare to open it, gently put it back on the shelf. Instead, I read a few pages of Noam Chomsky's Optimism over Despair.
When I go to unlock my bicycle I notice the Roma woman sitting on the steps to the tourist office, begging, with a curly haired toddler in her lap. She looks at me and I hold my breath. For a moment, I want to run over to her with open arms, hands full of food, care and love. But I turn and walk around the corner and quietly phone my friend at the women's centre. Don't worry, she assures me, go home, one of us will come and have a look now.
I cycle home through my beautiful neighbourhood, the tree lined streets, the colours of autumn. I smile at friends I meet and they wave back and the wind blows the tears from my eyes.