I have seen Heaven. 

Not the spooky long swirly tunnels and people in white. I saw Heaven in my own village once I left Royal Brompton and learned to walk again. I saw the ducks and their hatchlings, the cherry blossom on the trees, the weeping willows bursting into spring. And I cried.

I saw all this with eyes that had never seen such beauty before in this overwhelmingly appreciative way. I was given life. New life, by the incredible skills, expertise, and yes, love, of the National Health Service.

There is no way I can describe the gratitude I have for the team at RBH who gave me my life back to see Heaven again on my own doorstep.

It wasn’t all sweetness and light. I experienced in the coma sleeping hours and waking hours. A grounding I had was my name and address running across the striplight so I knew I was me.

The diary, written by the nurses who cared for me, and supplemented by my daughters, is one of the most precious items I have. I’m so grateful for the time they took to record my life when I was unconscious. I’m grateful for the dignity, respect, and kindness  I was afforded while I was for all effects dead.

No one knew whether I would survive or not, and yet I could see by their words that they were talking to me and caring for me throughout. My daughter said, “You were proper dead, Mum”

She had travelled from California to lay with me day after day in the hope I would wake. How I wish I had woken for her. That day was yet to come.

How happy was I to find a huge dripping tube being pulled out of my mouth? Not very! “Relax, Relax . . . “ they said.  It was with much disgust, confusion, and ingratitude that I choked and rejoined the human race. I was breathing on my own.

There is so much love in this diary, written by dedicated, selfless, and loving people at this terrific AICU department.

Once I checked out the bowel catheter I had to accept I was in a hospital. That was a revelation! I had no idea how to thank this wonderful team. They said no thanks required, and that my return to health was all the thanks they needed, and they really meant it.

I had to do something, something useful, something thankful, and although it’s a tiny gesture given what they did for me I donated £50 each month and invited the people who loved me to top this up even just a pound or two.

More tears as I saw people who are present friends/family, and people from my past stepping up and giving, because I had been safely returned to them. There is no care like the special care that was given to me. 

Francis, you gave thanks for my life and didn’t know I was there with you. Ivanka, Ivana, Jo, Jo, Nandi, you have no idea of the comfort and relief you gave me through the night before your daughter's exam, Mariella, and Asoka you held me, Asoka, in the darkest of nights. You are all such special people working above and beyond your job descriptions.

Doctors Tim, and Stefan, I will never forget you for your hard work and care for me. And Brij Patel. You are my hero.  My Superhero. You are the person who looked at me that Christmas in Cheltenham and thought I was worth a chance. You gave me against odds the chance of life, and Brij, we made it

This is how it feels, every day.