I’m pretty new to FaceBook so this is all quite strange to me. But thank you to everyone for sending me so many lovely messages on my birthday and supporting me through the various Joey hospital visits over the last week or so. He’s fine today, but God knows what tomorrow will bring. Epilepsy is hell, and for reasons no one quite understands, his has returned like a storm from hell. In the medieval world they interpreted epilepsy as either the devil trying to get out or, amazingly, the spirit of the angels. That’s self-evidently bollocks, and I think a much better explanation is that Joey—who has no speech, no social power of his own—is protesting against the multiple fiascos of 2016, especially, of course, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, and the ghastliness that will come in their wake.
Imagine three ambulancemen (actually two men, one woman), gathered in my booklined front room, surrounding Joey and me on my sofa. I’m still in my boxers, having just cleaned Joey’s shit off my leg, terrified that this time the epilepsy is going to get him once and for all: his heart beating at an inane speed, and with tears pouring down my face. And, fucking hell, it’s my birthday too!
Calm as anything however, utterly professional, totally humane, they put an oxygen mask over his face, inserted a canulla and gave him diazepam on a drip. And slowly, inexorably, the fear passed and Joey came back to life. I cried some more and they let me do that and I had some coffee. We then agreed that Joey should go into hospital and eventually, holding my hand and with his epilepsy helmet firmly on, we walked down the stairs and out the front door to the ambulance. And they helped Joey on to the bed, and we joked about how if this was in America I’d need to get my credit card out. And Joey smiled at the noise when they closed the ambulance door.
And I found myself thinking, as so often, of the existence of a culture which isn’t all about dog eat dog, which isn’t all consumed by who’s the fastest, or the richest, or the most beautiful. Of a culture which is prepared to help the weakest—Joey, certainly, but me too yesterday morning—and work for the best in humanity, not the worst. And so you see Joey’s epilepsy is a howl of protest: against the dark forces out there which are trying to destroy the things that matter.
But they won’t succeed. Long live the NHS. Long live Joey.