Before I nearly died I suffered from acute anxiety – but there’s been no sign of it since

A few weeks ago, the TV and radio presenter Richard Bacon was in the news for having spent seven days in an induced coma in Lewisham Hospital in south London after becoming ill with a lung infection on a flight from Los Angeles. Doctors told him afterwards that he had nearly died. My first reaction to this was: how dreadful for him and his family. My second reaction, more or less on top of the first, was: seven days? That’s nothing.

In 2012, I spent three weeks in an induced coma at King’s College Hospital, a few miles down the road from Lewisham, and 51 days in intensive care overall. Often, when I tell people I had pneumonia they are shocked and ask how I caught it. In fact, pneumonia is relatively common and, although still dangerous for the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, is usually easily treated with antibiotics. In my case, it was not so straightforward. Like Bacon, for a time I was close to death. At one point one of the consultants told my family I was “the sickest man in London”.

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