I arrived at the Royal Free in Hampstead at about 2am. It was eerily silent. I took the lift up to the ninth floor and was buzzed into the ward. I was met by a young, self-assured doctor - sandy haired with a beard and a pleasantly ironic detachment which was somehow immensely comforting. He also radiated an aura of intelligence which was also reassuring - it's not always the case with medics.
I had to do a Covid test. This frightened me because after months of feeling fine, I had the morning before developed a cough and a sore throat. I was convinced I had Covid and would be sent home. I did the test and was left alone for an hour while they processed it.
I sat in this small, bare room with a table and a telephone and a couple of chairs under the bright overhead light and waited. I felt predominantly worried. As I think I mentioned early, 2 out of 3 call-ins to the hospital for transplant result in you being sent home.
Then my doctor appeared, 'well, that's all fine, follow me and we'll get you ready.'
Now I was worried but also excited. I so wanted to be rid of the cancer which in my mind as kind of like Alien, gnawing away at my innards, waxing fat as the rest of me died.
We went downstairs in the lift, another ward, another room where I was given a gown to change into and I waited some more.
Probably about nine am, some doctors came to look at me and said, 'well the op's going ahead, you're scheduled for ten am. Just try and relax and we'll come and get you later.'
I texted my wife, then lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. There really seemed nothing else to do.
I was wheeled down in my bed in one of those big hospital lifts. It's a great way to travel. I love being pushed through a, by now, busy hospital in your bed watching the ceiling above you pass by. It's quite unlike anything you normally experience.
I was pushed into a room that was probably the ante-room to the operating room. I was canulised, and I met the anaesthetist, a very attractive, posh slim, blonde woman who said, 'for now you've just got one canula in, this is while we knock you out, when you're unconscious we'll put all the other tubes in, there'll be a lot of them ! Even one in your neck !'
'Oh...thank you, Dr...' I said.
'Ok,' she said....'here we go....'