Facing death – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Happiness is cheating death.



I went to the mass X-ray unit. I wasn’t sleeping. The pain was worse and I kept breaking out in sweats. I wasn’t feeling good. Something was definitely wrong. I wanted to know what it was.

It was a simple procedure, they took a few snapshots and it was over in five minutes flat. The worst thing was the wait. It took over a week for the results to come through.

I had to pick them up from the doctor’s surgery.

I waited in the waiting room in a cold sweat. I was convinced that it was going to be bad news. I could feel the pain continuously now. Sometimes it was really painful. I was convinced I could feel it in the shape of a round tumour. There was no doubt. I tensed myself for the bad news. There was Liz to consider and the kids. I had to fight it. Who knows whether that was possible? Maybe something could be done! I was trying to be philosophical, but I did not want to die. I was too young! I DID NOT WANT TO DIE!!

I was eaten up with anxiety.

The results were clear. There was no tumour. There was nothing untoward.

The diagnosis was that my symptoms were psychosomatic caused by the death of my father the previous year. I had bottled it up. Although, there was a chance that it could be a gastric or bowel problem.



Happiness is fulfilment, satiation and love. Ah, to be in love!



The diagnosis did not allay my fears. It merely meant that my lungs were clear. There were other organs that a tumour could be gestating in.

The pain did not go away. I went back in for further consultation. The doctor could see I was suffering. He booked an appointment with a specialist.

The consultant examined me. He thought that it was probably psychosomatic but there was a chance that it could be a gastrointestinal problem and talked about displacement pain. He explained that such problems often manifested in the lower chest region. Maybe I had an ulcer. He arranged an endoscopic examination.

I was still convinced that I had cancer. Perhaps the tumour was in my stomach. I thought it was more likely in the liver where my father’s had been. The liver was situated under the rib cage. I reasoned that I would very likely feel it there – just where I was experiencing it.

I arrived at the hospital and undressed. I sat in the waiting room with a sorry bunch of individuals all waiting for the same procedure. We all wore those silly gowns that go on backwards and do not do up at the back so that your arse hangs out of them. What is that all about? I really could not see the practical reason. It certainly did nothing to ease your anxiety.

They wanted to give me an anaesthetic. An anaesthetic? I was quite shocked. I had thought that it was only a little tube down the throat. I didn’t want an anaesthetic. I asked if I could do it without needing a general anaesthetic. That was fine with the doctor.

It was also fine with me, up until I saw the size of the massive tube they were after shoving down my throat. Too late by then!

They sprayed the back of my throat with some local anaesthetic to stop the gagging process, and shoved the gigantic tube down my throat. They prodded and probed as I gasped and gagged. It was uncomfortable, it hurt and it made you feel panicky, but I began to relax and I could watch it on the TV screen which was fascinating and almost made it worthwhile. Once I had become used to it I was OK and the surgeon talked me through what he was looking for and what he was finding. My submucosa was healthy. Even I could not see any sign of a tumour. Neither could the doctor. There was no ulceration, no lumps or abnormalities.

“Looks healthy enough”, he said breezily, “no sign of problems.”

I was back to square one. I suppose I had been hoping for an ulcer. That would explain the pain but was treatable. Now I still had the pain but no explanation. Lungs and stomach/duodenum had been ruled out.

I still worried.



We are the biggest disaster that has ever hit this planet! By the time we have run our course we will have killed off a greater percentage of life here than any comet or natural disaster since the beginning of time.

Our priority is to ensure that we change and become less destructive; to ensure that my prophesy of our terrible effect on the rest of life does not come true; to ensure that the destruction we are wreaking is halted and we learn to live in harmony with each other and the world.

There’s nothing daft or soppy about that!

If we don’t learn how to do that we are, along with every other living thing, completely screwed!



The major problem is that we are too greedy. We are consuming too much of the world’s resources.

Try telling that to a meathead hell bent on owning the world and consuming it all. “Hey, look how important I am, yah! I own a castle, twenty Rolls Royces and a fleet of Lear Jets!”

But then we are all guilty.

How many tellies do you have?

Crazy isn’t it?



Happiness is when your endorphins flood your brain and tingle all your synapses.


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