A visit to our GP. Dr AM, the consultant haematologist at the local hospital, complains that I have cancelled an appointment. I recall she said I was all clear and didn’t need these annual routine checkups. Anyway, I give blood and urine to Dr F, who is vastly more interested that I am an educational psychologist – a rare breed. Did I have any cards? But I have come out without even a wallet and F, my companion mercifully, has been paying for everything.

While you’re here, he says, is there anything wrong with you? Generally okay? Suddenly all my little quotidian complaints seem to dwindle to the small status of things scarcely worth mentioning. Is this my training? Bear pain. Don’t complain.

But when I get home, I consider scornfully: I am flatulent, sluggish of digestion, insomniac, overheated and overweight. My fine motor control is eroding rapidly. I have arthritis in both my thumbs, which is untreatable and makes many daily tasks, like opening the cap of a milk carton, exceptionally difficult. Both my lower legs itch a lot and, when scratched, grow raw and hairless.

From a notebook entry for 22nd September 2005