My arm has gone septic

MY arm has gone septic.

They told me it was bursitis, which is ridiculous. Old people get bursitis. It makes your elbow swell up and look silly, but it doesn’t make it rot.

I can now reveal to those thousands of you who wondered why I didn’t write this column last week that it was because I had a septic elbow. Not bursitis.


My arm looked like the kind of marrow that would win prizes — if it wasn’t so ripe your fingers went through when you tried to pick it up.

You can’t type a column with an arm like that. Well, you can but you can’t use any capital letters (because you have to use the shift key with your other hand).

Come to think of it, you can’t use brackets either for the same reason. And the whole of the top row of the keyboard is lost to you, which means you can’t effectively swear at people in print, as in: “#$%%^&**& &#@@!”.

Nor can you shake your fist when you’re driving, unless you steer with your knees.

I’m not joking here. There was a moment when I thought they might cut my arm off.

It’s ridiculous what thoughts bother you at a time like that.

Oh God, I won’t be able to tie a tie! I’ll have to wear one of those awful things on a piece of elastic! (But I never wear a tie anyway).

Oh God, I won’t be able to play the piano! (Just like I haven’t been able to play the piano for the past 59 years — with two arms).

Oh God, I won’t be able to scratch my ear while I’m having a pee! (well, only at enormous risk).

This is ridiculous. There must be more important considerations.

And if I have to lose an arm why couldn’t it be under a rock, so I have to cut it off myself and stagger home and make millions of dollars out of the story?

Why did I merely have to get nocardiosis, for heaven’s sake!

The doctors finally diagnosed it three days ago. It’s a very rare disease carried by a bacteria in the soil. It’s all over the world and it’s very selective.

 It selected me.

It rots your lungs and your skin and your brain. And I can confirm it likes arms, which go mushy. Apparently if you get it in more than one place it’s very likely to kill you. My wife says I’ve got it wrong. Obviously, she says, it starts with the brain.

But this is no time for flippancy — I’m going mouldy before my very eyes!

I’m a very ordinary person, and I’m too old for exotic, potentially fatal diseases. Why couldn’t it have been something simple like bursitis.

I can’t deny a certain sense of stoic heroism, however, in my ability to make jokes about this. I mean, I could be dying and yet here I am being droll.

I’ve even been working on my last words, in case I need them. Something like: "I wish I’d drunk more champagne" or "kiss me, Hardy" although those have been done.

I just hope when I go I’m not caught out saying "I need a bedpan" before final seizure, with no time for anything more erudite.

But, as you can see, my arm appears to be responding to treatment (otherwise there’d be no capital letters). I can’t be sure about my brain.

I guess the give-away will be when I start writing rubbish.