It started with a picture. Diabetic foot, that is. I saw it in a magazine, inflamed, bruised, and blistered. Then, when my foot started to hurt, I thought I had it. The pain grew. My intelligence shrivelled. I hobbled around, waiting for gangrene to set in. Months passed. Walking became tough. I was dying.
–It might be a fracture, said a friend, a doctor, come in for a scan.
–To reveal I have cancer? No way. Thanks, man.
Out with another friend, Amir, for lunch, I noticed a blemish on his eyelid. (Diabetic eye!) I asked what it was.
–Getting rusty, he said.
— No, we’re still young, I said.
I took a bite of my burger*. Wind jammed in my chest. Death? No, breathe said Amir. I took his advice. Alive, if shocked, I finished my burger. Diabetic chest or mini-heart attack, I shall never know.
One day, my left foot refused to support my weight any longer – unless, it said, we headed to a hospital. Who could refuse? We checked in at Charing Cross Hospital A&E. The foot got there before me. An older, rather posh, English woman had fallen off her bicycle. Her helmet was still on. She looked like she should be preparing scones and jam for her nephews, but her elbow was bleeding.
My name was called. Head bowed, the sinner, I limped to be healed.
–Your foot hurts? the doctor said.
–Owawwagghh, I replied.
–How long has it been?
–Three months, I said.
–Don’t you have a GP?
Sock off, he gestured. I complied.
(Woman with grazed elbow had already been treated, worry not)
–You’ve got flat feet.
–That’s it? I said.
In fact, they’re boat-shaped, but who was I to argue.
–You need to see a chiropodist.
I’d rather see a velociraptor.
–Three months, eh? the doctor repeated, shaking his head in disbelief.
–Yes, I said, feeling like a five-year-old.
The pain subsided as I left the building, cured. Jesus was no miracle-worker but surrounded by morons.
* There are two burger vans in London’s Golbourne Road (off Portobello Road, and tourist radar). Run by Moroccans, each burger is served with fried egg and chips stuffed into the bun, topped by a homemade red sauce. At two pounds, it is easily the best sandwich in London. Soups are also available (pea, bean and lentil). English is spoken. Occasionally. Opposite one of the vans is a mosque. Once a woman introducing herself as a journalist asked if Amir and I worshipped there. No, said Amir, pointing to the burger van, we worship there.