MARTIN KIRBY. / www.mothersgarden.org

Stepping out of a shadow

People. We all need people, and sometimes it is extraordinary the power of love and positive thought. I felt it.

OOMPH. What hit me?

April 12. After a late lunch I fulfilled a promise to myself, veered away from the office and wandered cheerfully up the farm to the top terraces. With the sunshine on my shoulder I felt fit and well.

My son Joe had told me some days before that there was new life in the old beehive I had restored and placed in the almond grove last year.

True enough. I sat on the warmth earth as near as I dare, hugging my legs, watching the beautiful to and fro; so contented that a swarm had found its way there and all was to the queen's liking. That made four active hives at Mother's Garden. It was another serene fulfilment, a tiny but no less significant reason to forget for a moment the ills of the world.

Then a twinge.

My breathing shortened with a sharp pain below my ribs. I slowly made my way back to the house, hoping it was just trapped wind and would pass. It didn't. I doubled over, somehow managing to call my partner Maggie who was working in the garden. I couldn't breathe. I remember nothing of the next four days.

Fifty four days later I have just emerged from Sant Joan Hospital in Reus, grateful to be alive. This article is an open letter of sincere gratitude to the staff there, both in intensive care (nearly four weeks) and on the general ward; and also to my Maggie, our children and to all our family and friends.

People. We all need people, and sometimes it is extraordinary the power of love and positive thought. I felt it.

The hospital has been in the news for the wrong reasons as a political and legal storm rages, but let me say, at the clinical end, at the heart of it, as I am sure is true of dedicated health service professionals throughout Catalonia and around the globe, the care, humanity and skill was deeply humbling.

Laid bare, as I was, to the truths of our complex physiology, to my deepest fears and doubts, taken right back to a child-like dependency, learning to walk again, realising the fragility of all life, has, as anyone who with similar experience will know, been beyond edifying.

I was struck down by an acute case of pancreatitis, possibly brought about by gravel in my gall bladder that blocked my pancreatic gland. I ballooned at first, but now the infections are subsiding I have emerged from the shadow eleven kilos lighter. It will be a long road, they keep telling me, possibly a year before I am fully recovered, but I am home, in the life-force biodiversity of Mother's Garden, with my family.

Are you familiar with the workings of your remarkable vehicle for life? It is a bit like having a car, isn't it? Dauntingly complex. Someone else will understand and fix it.

I just need to stop taking anything for granted to live the day and measure my strides and thoughts. Tomorrow is another day. And there has been ample time to appreciate the need to understand and care for my besieged body, connect with it even in a way I never have, through meditation and positive, healing thoughts; to explore the wellbeing power of the mind.

As for wider contemplations, I really must sharpen up my Catalan. Maybe it will happen naturally, what with a litre of Catalan blood now flowing through my veins. Visca el Barça,Visca Catalunya!

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