It had been a long day of errands across London. I was at my favourite Camden Town sushi bar sitting on a high stool enjoying a glass of wine and my favourite sushi meal. All of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. My head started swimming and I had an excruciating pain in my chest. I have a clear recollection of thinking “This is it and I have so much more to do and say”.
The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor in a pool of blood and a diminutive, very serious looking Japanese girl in a black and bloodstained apron was kneeling close beside me–bandaging my head with a long white towel, then holding my hand and murmuring in my ear over and over again: “It’s ok, you’re going to be alright”.
Two ambulance staff arrived and got me up. They walked me ever so gently to a waiting ambulance. Their cheerful banter as they conducted some basic tests to check whether I had had a heart attack reassured me that I was no longer about to die. I was soon at University College Hospital where over the next three hours I went through multiple further tests to see whether I had suffered any serious brain injury and finally had my head wound stitched up. The medical conclusion: a piece of sushi has got stuck in my throat and, to my great good fortune, been unstuck by my fall.
The care and kindness I received from the porter who wheeled me in from the ambulance, from the two nurses and the three doctors who treated me, including the senior consultant in charge of A&E that night, were extraordinary.
I went home in a taxi happy to be alive and truly thankful. Hurray for the NHS!
The next day my head was very sore, but I was well enough to return to the sushi bar with a large bunch of flowers for my little Japanese saviour. I simply said to her:” This is a small token for your extraordinary kindness last night”. She replied: “Thank you, but I was just doing my job”.