As I was wheeled through the corridors of the hospital on Saturday wondering whether the lights in the ceiling would be among the last earthly things I ever saw, I realised that the experience I could most closely relate it to was setting off on various terrifying rides at Thorpe Park with Cylene: there was the same sense of abandonment to something I didn't really want to happen. I'd known, in theory, that this was coming since I was diagnosed with a hernia in October, but in the event it all happened rather more quickly than I thought it would.
Of course it's a pretty minor sort of procedure and the surgeon seemed almost bored when he did the rounds of the bays in the short-stay ward. 'I've done thousands of these,' he assured me, prompting a feeling of sympathy as much as confidence. However, I'd never had a general anaesthetic before, and didn't know how it was going to play out: you can never quite be sure you don't have a hidden heart or brain complaint which is suddenly going to become apparent, and it had seemed as though bits and pieces of my life had been gathering to see me off over the last few days, a very strange sensation. I told myself that in fact drifting into unconsciousness and not emerging is a fairly gentle and unobjectionable way of passing out of this mortal life, although in the end I was nothing more than a bit sick.
And so here I am at home, having passed a Sunday with no church activity for the first time since I was a new Christian in Chatham twenty-five years ago. I've managed to clear my diary for this week, the church has flowed around the gaps I have left and filled them, and Ms Formerly Aldgate is doing most of the cooking. My biggest and most distracting problem is horrible indigestion which I trust will dissipate before long - it's early yet. It's taking more time to pass through than the beneficent sense of gratitude for being alive at all which I felt on first emerging, which swiftly, and sadly, becomes swamped by other things. I'll have to work at maintaining it!