Reflections from the front line: Dying, an atheist (a)muses

MS, UTIs, and COVID-19 led to my near-death experience

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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If you noticed my sudden disappearance, it wasn’t because I was sacked. Surprising, I know. Just “MS MIA” — missing in action with multiple sclerosis.

While raving in the hospital, I was suddenly moved to my own private room. In Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), this could only mean one thing: I was set for the offski.

You don’t get the luxury of a private room for nothing. Well, actually, you do — everything is still free in the bosom of our all-enveloping mother, the NHS. However, that mother now has 10 jobs to do and is drowning financially. She certainly ain’t got the cash for no day care. We citizens are now all medical latchkey kids.

I’d been hospitalized because the urinary tract infections lurking in my bladder had finally won, like I always thought they would. Hey-ho.

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Now a porter was dragging my bed along for an X-ray. Not even his standard joke of “Hands in for the ride, sir” got a response from me. I was a blubbering mess. Is that what it feels like to die?

I had just spent three weeks in a fever-driven fugue and thought I was surely beyond help. Only the gloom of death made any sense.

The porter had heard all of this many times before. It was as hackneyed as his joke.

We both sensibly ignored each other.

Back in my room, I wiled away a few hours trying unsuccessfully to phone my wife to say goodbye and tell her how much I loved her. A melodramatic diva to the last. That’s what a lifetime’s involvement in the arts gets you.

Luckily, the technology was beyond me. Unsurprising, as I couldn’t even drink on my own at that point.

‘Rage, rage’

Some 12 hours of this circling madness ensued. I was screaming into the night for no good reason, except to perhaps follow Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ advice to “not go gentle into that good night.”

Nothing made sense anymore — especially my Audible books, which I was somehow still able to play. They started off all right but soon turned into an aggressive alien language that both fixated me and pinned me to my sweat-soaked bed in fright.

I was lost.

Twelve hours later, a nurse came into my room. It turned out I’d been separated from everyone else because the hospital staff thought I had COVID-19. I did, but it certainly wasn’t about to kill me!

After a few more raving days, my Audible books suddenly changed back to English inside my very ears.

My only COVID-19 legacy was that my hands felt like they were covered with slug juice for weeks afterward. If they actually had been, I’d have qualified as the worst mutant of all time. Ryan Reynolds of “Deadpool” fame could stop whining about “Green Lantern” and just cast me in his next extravaganza.

A boy can still dream-rave.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Kristin Hardy avatar

Kristin Hardy

John! So glad to see you back. We've missed you!

Mark avatar


Sorry you've been so poorly. I hope that you're feeling better and welcome back.

Barbara Dalziel avatar

Barbara Dalziel

I loved your story John having to go through uti after uti I could really resonate with you and also having had Covid last March I had surmised at the time that a uti kind of went with Covid as that’s what happened with me. I’m so glad you on the road to recovery and able to continue to relate such wonderful views on life through MS eyes. Keep on trucking MS Warrior.

Bonny avatar


So glad you're back and writing your column again. You're the best.

cay Borduin avatar

cay Borduin

Glad you're still alive and back writing!


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