Well it was back to Birmingham for me this week.
My right leg is growing in a very odd way, with bone spurs coming out in all directions.
One looks just like an anchor which only goes to show that I’ve spent far too much time in boats lately.
It was funny to be at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Eight years ago it was Selly Oak, which was a massive old Victorian place, and has now been pulled down and replaced by the new hospital.
I don’t remember much about the six months that I spent there, but I’ve learnt plenty from the people that were with me.
At the time the press were trying to make a story about the fact that there was a very high proportion of Muslim patients in the hospital, and that there was trouble between the military families and the local people. This never happened. All the military families tried to treat everybody with respect and this was returned to us.
The ward that the military patients were on was an odd mix, with six bed bays for female patients, then military patients, then male surgical, then very old ladies most of whom simply couldn’t go home.
I was in a single man room just off the old ladies bay.
That may seem strange but in fact my family and most of the lads got very, very fond of some of the old people and their families, and they used to bring the lads tea and cakes, and chat about their younger days.
Now it’s all very different. QE is enormous and brand new.
It’s like a little village, and there is a dedicated military ward.
That doesn’t mean it’s only used for soldiers - at the moment there aren’t many in, but you get the feeling that it’s been made ready for when the time comes that it’s needed again. I Hope that’s a LONG way off.
At the moment it’s mostly lads like me, who need some work doing on old injuries.
Well my operation takes place this Thursday. I think I will be in about three weeks and I promise I will be a very bad patient.
I’ve been warned that I will feel quite ill for a while, with lots of tubes and drains, but it’s just something that has to be got through to move on to better things.
My mum and dad will be there as always, staying in Norton House, which is run by the national armed forces charity SAAFA.
It’s named after Pete Norton, an officer in bomb disposal who was injured just before me.
He couldn’t believe that there was nowhere for families to stay and raised the money to convert this house for them.
I may be 30 now, but it’s still good to know they will be near by.
Well, next time we talk I will have been re-modelled, so watch this space.
* Ben Parkinson, Wounded Doncaster war hero