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The accompanying screengrab is a record of a call I made to 111 that ultimately saved my life.

I will keep this screengrab as a reminder of what might have been had I not made the call. After the ordeal I went through, a surgeon at Ealing Hospital told me that without the life-saving surgery I quickly received, I had only 12 hours to live.

There is a parallel universe that makes me shudder every time I think about it. A universe where my wife would have been widowed. A universe where my kids would have been without a dad.

Let’s rewind. On Sunday, March 17th at around 4pm, I started to experience severe stomach pain. I had decided to visit my sister so I got in the car and drove to her home in Maidenhead. When I arrived, the pain became more intense, so we went to the local hospital to try to establish the cause. After chest x-rays and a CT scan that revealed nothing, I decided to go back home and try to sleep it off. At around 4am on the Monday morning, I got up and vomited violently. Persuading myself that this might sort the issue, I tried to get some rest.

I returned back to Ealing still experiencing stomach pain, convinced I was suffering some sort of bug. Therefore, I ‘soldiered on’ throughout the day.

At about midnight, however, I got up and vomited even more violently than the previous evening, but this time it was different. The contents were brown. Now, for those of you with any kind of medical knowledge you would know that this is pretty serious but, once again, I went back to bed.

I could not get to sleep, so I thought I might call 111 just to see if there was a problem. I wouldn’t usually call this number because, reputationally and anecdotally, I didn’t think they would have any chance of establishing the issue. Maybe tell me to get some rest and take a paracetamol.

Mostly, I don’t like to bother the health service, but having taken the step and got through, I explained the symptoms in minor detail. Then the receiver asked me if the vomit was brown or like ‘coffee granules’.

I thought: “Mmm, yes, it was actually brown.” It was a reticent acceptance of the colour of my sick. An understated confirmation, if you like. The receiver put me on hold, then informed me that they were going to call an ambulance. I asked: “Is that necessary: seems a bit dramatic?”

Then they asked me if I was ‘refusing’ an ambulance. I said ‘no’.

At this point my fate was sealed. The engine of the health service went into overdrive and within hours I was in an operating theatre undergoing surgery.

The condition I was suffering was a ‘bowel obstruction’. Sounds pretty benign, but it’s not.

I underwent keyhole surgery and the operation was a success, but a day later when the surgeon showed me the photographs of the bowel, he described it as ‘very angry’. Indeed it was.

It was black, and it was as if a knot had been tied around it. The blocked bowel was expanding like a balloon. Thankfully, it wasn’t gangrenous, but without putting a finer point on it, it was fit to burst.

The surgeon explained that had it burst, I would not have survived. I asked tentatively: “How long did I have until it did?”

At best, 12 hours he explained.

Then he said something really strange. He said: “Your God and his angels were smiling on you that night.” He didn’t even know I was a Christian. I hadn’t even mentioned my faith.

I spent four days in hospital, being treated with great care. The NHS, much maligned, gave me first-class treatment and, for all those idiots who start complaining about immigration, I can say with absolute certainty that without immigration the NHS would be on its knees. Every person who treated me, from A&E, to the surgical team, to the ward staff, were all from ethnic backgrounds. And they were just fantastic, every single one of them.

So, what do I think now? Have I had an epiphany about what my life should look like now?

It’s easy to over-romanticise about these incidents. Surely, I spend too much time rushing around, dealing with work, other projects and things that really don’t matter that much. I’ll need to slow down a bit but, unfortunately, I am built to push myself. It’s a stupid, inherent condition.

Can I be a better dad? Yes. Can I be a better husband? Almost certainly. Can I be a better writer and musician? Of course, you never stop learning. Can I be a better golfer? No, that die is cast I’m afraid.

The thing is. I heard God tell me that I didn’t need to be better as a so-called Christian. I don’t need to impress him. I could ‘do’ better as a follower I suppose, but he loves me as I am. I just need to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’.

Easter is my favourite time of year. I like Easter eggs, chocolate, hot cross buns and the associated church services that tell the greatest story known to man.

As a result of this exposition in frequent sermons I know that Christ did it all on the cross for me – and you – and, as you read this hashed-together text, it’s important to understand what Jesus is all about. He is about kindness, generosity, peace, goodness, self control and love. You don’t have to ‘do’ stuff. You can if you want, but it’s not the key. And nor should it be.

So, I am thankful for the extra time God has given me. I want to thank all those who worked to keep me alive: the woman on the 111 call, the ambulancemen, the A&E doctor who immediately diagnosed the issue, the anaesthetists, the surgeons and the brilliant staff at Ealing Hospital’s Ward 3 South.

I shall forever be in their debt.