Comedy swells up from the most painful of places, discovers Nigel Smith, quite literally. One day, he is whisked to hospital with a brain lesion so severe that the radiologist assumes he must be dead. Something is wrong deep inside his medulla, the signal junction in the brain which is the vital link between thought and action and controls everything from temperature to erections, from heartbeat to breathing, from eyes to feet.
But he lives to tell the tale. The real battle in hospital, he writes, is for dignity. He warmly and wittily chronicles the daily torments of hospital life, from the physical discomforts of thirst and of an erection while being cathetered, to the mental tortures of jealousy, frustration and boredom. The experience is healing, but also alters his perspective, for he learns to appreciate what is right in his life.
This traumatic tale is told with such a winning lightness of touch that it is a lesson to all to keep the chin up in the face of adversity, and that humour is indeed the best medicine.