Intimations of Mortality — And Why This Is the View From My Bedroom

23.3.11

Recently, as I began my 49th year on this earth, I was ambushed by questions of mortality that had not troubled me for nearly 20 years, when both my grandmothers died in swift succession, and I, as a generally chaotic twenty-something, had to grapple with loss, and with questions of old age and memories of childhood that I was not necessarily equipped to deal with.

I realize that it’s arguable that all my work for the last five years, chronicling the lives — and sometimes the deaths — of those subjected to torture and abuse at Guantánamo and elsewhere in America’s “War on Terror” has dealt explicitly with questions of mortality that are far beyond what most people deal with in their daily lives, and that this may well have had an impact on me that I have not been able to gauge myself.

However, in terms of my personal encounters with mortality, the greatest tests since those encounters with the deaths of my grandmothers have come this year, with the death of my father, and with my own intimations of mortality, prompted by my father’s death, the illness of my mother, and by my own unexpected encounters with the fragility of my own life.

I don’t imagine that losing a father can ever be easy. Death can be sudden, as it was in my father’s case, or slow and painful, and I imagine the former is always preferable, unless there are outstanding issues that a sudden death would prevent from being raised, discussed and — hopefully — dealt with, but this was not the case with my father. Although we were not exceptionally close, as he had remarried after the failure of his first marriage to my mother, and this second family had been the focus of his life for 35 years, we had, over time, developed a great liking and respect for one another, as our lives and circumstances changed, that involved some deep and unspoken affection and mutual understanding.

At my father’s funeral, just outside Skipton, North Yorkshire, where he had moved just one day before a heart attack took him away in his sleep, there were numerous condolences cards from the various phases of his life, but most of all, it seemed, from the Norfolk Broads, where he and his second wife Barbara had lived for the previous 12 years, deeply involved in the local church community, where he was widely admired for his kindness and for being “a gentleman,” and thoroughly enjoying what he described as his and Barbara’s “12-year holiday.” Retirement clearly suited him more than work ever had, and he also delighted in becoming a grandparent — first when my son was born, and then when his step-daughter (to whom he had been a father almost all her life) had two boys.

Under these circumstances, it was difficult to see my father’s death as something sad in and of itself, and much easier to note that a sudden death leaves everyone a little confused, and especially leaves a hole in the lives of those closest to the departed — in my father’s case, Barbara, who, half-laughing, half-crying, complained that my father had wanted to be back in the Yorkshire Dales, where he had enjoyed walking as a young man, but that, as soon as they had returned, he had abandoned her.

My father’s death coincided, alarmingly, with serious illness on my mother’s part. Diagnosed and dealt with, this is a panic that has passed, but at its height my mother spoke to me on the phone and then promptly forgot who I was, which was as shocking a conversation as I have ever had in my entire life, as nothing had previously encouraged me to think that, one day, my mother would no longer know who I am.

In the end, these events — my father’s death, and my mother’s temporary amnesia, brought on by an untreated infection — took place in the same week, the first week of February, when I was in Poland, touring a sub-titled version of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” which I co-directed with filmmaker Polly Nash, and wondering why I was suffering from deep and disabling pain in my right foot, when there was no discernible reason for it.

The problem with my foot — which, in connection with my father’s death and my mother’s illness, prompted some serious intimations of mortality on my own part  — has been a long and slowly unfolding nightmare. The big toe of my right foot first started playing up in the New Year, when I visited New York and Washington D.C. for the ninth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. At the time I thought I’d hit it on something and bruised it, but this obviously wasn’t the case when it didn’t get any better.

At the end of January, I finally sought advice from one of the doctors in the group surgery nearest to my home in London. Thinking it was some sort of infection, he put me on a week-long course of antibiotics, which didn’t work, but this wasn’t decisively confirmed until I was in Poland, where I put up with the pain until I returned to the UK. Even then, the doctors continued to be confused, and the hope appeared to be that whatever it was might pass of its own accord.

It wasn’t until a second toe — the middle toe on my right foot — swelled up at the start of March that this approach to the problem was finally ditched, and I was referred to the Accident & Emergency Department at Lewisham Hospital, with instructions to insist on seeing the vascular team, who deal with problems relating to blood flow.

The vascular team reassured me that the problem posed by my increasingly painful and now blackening toes was not fatal, and would not, in all likelihood, lead to amputation — both of which were a relief, given how severe the problem now appeared to be, with my middle toe acutely sensitive to the slightest touch — but the doctors then proceeded to give me an appointment for an arterial scan 13 days later. With hindsight, I realize that I should have complained that 13 days was far too long to wait when I was already in great pain, but for some reason this didn’t occur to me, and I spent the next two weeks never getting more than ten minutes sleep at a time, which I don’t recommend to anyone who wishes to preserve their sanity.

Although I had been prescribed codeine, it wasn’t enough to block the pain and every time I laid down to try to sleep, pain would shoot through my foot as soon as it had been lying motionless for a few minutes. This went on and on, over and over every night, from before midnight to long after dawn, with sleep almost entirely unattainable — as much of a mirage as it was for the poor prisoners in Guantánamo who were subjected to what was described, euphemistically, as the “frequent flier program,” in which, every two hours, over the course of days, weeks or even months, prisoners were moved from cell to cell so that they were deprived of meaningful sleep for signficiant periods of time, and gradually — or, in some cases. precipitously — suffered severe mental disintegration.

Under these circumstances, my ability to think clearly and to write — the incessant driver of my life for the last five years — finally started to desert me, and on Friday last week (the day after I finally received an arterial scan), the consultant at Lewisham found me a bed on a ward with a great view over Ladywell Fields, the landscaped park that flanks the Ravensbourne river as it makes it way down to Deptford to meet the great body of the Thames.

Away from my computer, I had the opportunity to reflect on how well the NHS is operating, as the axe wielded by the coalition government hangs over it, and how the last thing it needs is the kind of unprecedented top-down reorganization proposed by health minister Andrew Lansley, whereby consortia of GPs — assisted by the Tories’ private sector chums, of courtse — will be responsible for managing the hospitals’ £80 bn budget, distributing contracts on a competitive basis that is intended to break up and effectively privatize the NHS.

After two days, I was referrred on to St. Thomas’s Hospital on the Thames, directly opposite the Houses of Parliament, where, after an ambulance journey with two dedicated public servants, who were proud of their jobs and fearful of the government’s intentions, I was greeted warmly and processed efficiently in a buzzing A&E department, and then taken up to a room in a ward on the 10th floor with the most amazing view of the Houses of Parliament — hence the photos, and my mention of the view from my bedroom in the title of this article — while doctors and consultants began working out how to redirect the flow of blood to my starved and damaged toes, which, it has become apparent, was blocked because of minor arterial damage elsewhere in my body.

However, although I’m now being thoroughly monitored by professionals — and being given painkillers by professionals — the pain has still not gone away, an unbroken night’s sleep is still an inaccessible memory, and I’m waiting to see if body scans, a course of blood-thinning drugs and another course of artery-expanding infusions will actually bring life back to my toes and sleep back to my life.

With a new-found respect for life — through the sudden loss of my father, the temporary amnesia of my mother and my own intimations of mortality — I have finally put aside the last vestige of my self image as some sort of youthful revolutionary, a mirage which many people my age will recognize, but which in my case proved surprisingly resistant to common sense — at least as far as smoking was concerned, which I continued to enjoy and to endorse enthusiastically up until last Friday, even though it undoubtedly contributed to my current problems. I gave up drinking alcohol three years ago, which was easy, but continues to impress many people I meet, who struggle with their own intake, but on smoking I was way behind the pack, often the only addict sneaking out the back to sustain a habit that was increasingly shorn of all its false glamour.

The most demonstrable example of my belated maturity took place at noon on Friday March 18, when, after 29 years of life as an enthusiastic chain smoker, I smoked my last ever cigarette outside Lewisham Hospital.

Having seen the future, and recognized my own death, I’d now like to get on with my life again. Please bear with me as I recover from my current suffering, and get back to work. I can’t promise that I’ll be writing at quite the same hectic pace I’ve maintained for the last four years as a nicotine- and caffeine-fuelled freelance journalist, but I haven’t yet abandoned my beloved coffee, and, given that my indignation at the world’s many injustices is undiminished, I expect that I’ll be as opinionated as ever, if not quite as relentlessly workaholic.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

167 Responses

  1. Jan (The Cosmic Surfer) says...

    Andy,
    Thank you for trusting enough to write so bravely.
    Thank you for being the on-going thorn in the side; burr in the saddle; pain in the ass of those who would hide their crimes committed in all of OUR names. A light on the hidden sickness posing as power.
    Yours is a clear voice and a strength of speaking truth to power but that is not all there is to you.

    Please be well and know that there are many of us that wish you speedy recovery and health.
    Namaste
    Jan

  2. Amber says...

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    Good luck with the quitting smoking! I’m a month in and it’s going well. My fifth or sixth attempt over ten years though, and hopefully the last attempt.

  3. elena says...

    I’m sorry to hear all that you’ve been through. My condolences on your father’s passing, Andy. I wish you a speedy recovery. Take the time you need to repair. We’ll be here.

  4. Hassan says...

    Get well soon Andy! Our prayers are with you and I am sure your courage and tenacity will help those in need.

  5. Sue Thompson says...

    Dear Andy,
    I wish you a speedy recovery. I am sorry for all that you have had to endure. It is sad all that you have been through & all you have seen. I know through the sadness it is hard to concentrate on the positive but it seems you are doing a great job. At least staying focussed on the great gift for writing & sharing that you have.
    Wish I could bring you chocolate. Can’t make it that far yet, but I do send you kisses & a warm hug from Florida.
    Please take care,
    PEACE!
    Sue

  6. Dennis Loo says...

    Andy:

    We have never met but I am a great admirer of you and your work. I wish you the very best. The world is better because of people like you and because you continue to fight the fight that must be fought.

  7. Peace Activist says...

    I’m shocked to read of your misfortunes. I know the feeling, when sudden death of loved ones strikes. I can only hope and pray you recover soon, I do believe you follow a noble cause with your work, that I believe to be of great importance. If I find an address I can use, I’ll send you a card or something. I’m afraid I could not help but strongly identify with the “nicotine and caffeine fueled” bit of your article. I got the gin under control, but I’ve been giving up smoking for ten years. I go outside for a smoke rather than indoors now and smoke less. I do think you are correct about the NHS; however if private companies become involved, we must consider, what sort of companies. Anyway I’ll offer my best wishes for now and keep my eyes open for any up dates on your recovery, bye for now.

  8. Jeffrey Kaye says...

    Andy, Thanks for the quite personal and enlightening essay concerning the sorrows of middle age, including the loss of your father. What a horror your toe condition seems to be. I hope the docs figure it all out, and it becomes another one of those memories, sentinels of future mortality, which stand out, but become tarnished over time, blanketed over with the dust stirred up by an active and meaningful life.

    You have given us much, Andy. Who ever, by your production and energy, have ever known that you were suffering so much? Get well, soon.

  9. jayne sparks says...

    so sorry to hear of your troubles. good luck, hope your jumping around very soon

  10. Tales From Bradistan says...

    Brave and honest article Andy and wishing you a swift journey back to full health. Sounds like a real nightmare indeed. Good luck with quitting smoking, I’m on 20 years now and if you have the willpower it can surely be done. Hope to see you on Saturday.

  11. Magda says...

    So sorry to hear about the loss of you father Andy. He sounded like a fine man. You are his son after all. Good luck with you and your mum’s recoveries and big congratulations on giving up that awful weed. Now every breath in you take will fill your body with energy and vitality and every one out will help take away the poisons and toxins. Thank you to the lovely NHS staff looking after you during your encounter with mortality. And life. Get well soon.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind and supportive words. More to follow from Facebook, and to those of you wishing to send a card, if you’d like to do so, my home address is: 164A Tressillian Road, London SE4 1XY.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Ciudadano Kane Kane wrote:

    Oh my goodness!, are you alright?… Sorry to hear about all that!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    John Randolph Hardison Cain wrote:

    I hope you get well soon.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Amir Khan wrote:

    I’m so sorry to hear this sad news my friend. I wish you all the best and pray for a speedy recovery. You know Andyworth is always in someone’s prayers.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay wrote:

    OH! that sounds dreadful.
    ‘of interest’? you have our complete sympathies

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Graham wrote:

    Compassion, love & peace to you, Andy.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Mahfuja Bint Ammu wrote:

    ‎:( sounds so painful – may God grant you ease.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Leona Starr Mars wrote:

    I will pray for you too…

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Afshin Rattansi wrote:

    get well soon, andy!

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Saboor Syed wrote:

    Wish u earliest and complete recuperation.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Roland Jesperson wrote:

    Andy, I am So sorry about this. Am pulling for you all the way, you will constantly be in my thoughts. Keep up the good fight; you’ve faced and conquered more powerful demons many times before, you’ll conquer this one too, I’m sure of it!

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Rahma Aka-Mercy wrote:

    Sorry to hear your pain. I sincerely hope you get better. Its wonderful news that you are giving up smoking and may you continue your work for the world!

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Afshin Rattansi wrote:

    i can’t figure out whether your getting that room at st. thomas’ with THAT view was ironic, tragic or just plain lucky!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Neill Le Roux wrote:

    Be well soon Andy! May the universe reflect the care you’ve shown for others on you, during your time of illness.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Andy my friend… that is your body warning you to take a bit of a rest and some time for yourself… Having been married to a severe haemophiliac for many years I realised long ago we can’t take health for granted. Until we have experienced pain and sleeplessness we don’t realise how wonderful it is to live pain free. That view from St Thomas brought back a memory of a trip to London and rushing across the river for Pete to get treatment for a bleed…I can’t remember a week in his life when he didn’t bleed or experience severe pain…and me have to inject him… however people are also amazing resiliant and adapt to their circumstances…(he still managed to backpack round the world lol with a backpack full of syringes :-)) Its a good time for you to consider the work/leisure balance… and I’m afraid its the old saying…if you don’t take care of yourself first you will be in no position to assist others…so don’t rush…take it easy for a change…

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    June Maxi Marshall wrote:

    God Bless you Andy! I wish you all the best. Why do good people have to suffer pain while thugs go on and on?

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Nick Jewitt wrote:

    Good luck with the toes. I certainly identify with not having the right response at the right time to doctors’ words. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as, for that matter, is maturity. Good luck with the no smoking too. Ladywell would have been a nice view, a kind of urban oasis.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Renalie Smith wrote:

    + God Bless mr. Andy! . + i know u can do such thing as survivaL! .. :)

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Harsha Prabhu wrote:

    Bless you Andy. You are required to be around for important work!

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Annette Gasbarro wrote:

    I am thinking about you and wishing you speedy healing, Andy, during this time when you are going through this suffering. May you find comfort in knowing that many many people wish you well!!

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Jim Naureckas wrote:

    Wow, what a horrible ordeal. Glad to hear that you’re taking care of yourself–pace yourself, because we need you.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Fee MercuryMoon wrote:

    OMG – Massive Hugs and Love XXXXX

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Chazz Mervyn wrote:

    I’m glad you don’t toe the line with your writing, but very pleasing to see you toe the line for your circulation, by giving up the cigs; finally did the same a few years back. I go for a run most days, as I have to keep my leg and foot circulation healthy because of doing heavy duty sports training when young.

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Doug Henwood wrote:

    Ow! Good luck man!

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hayden wrote:

    Good luck, Andy. In the past 7 years, I lost my Dad, 2 brothers and 4 aunts. In the past year, my 86 yr old Mom has gone through diverticulitis, pancreatitis, a broken hip and seemingly, the most minor thing, a fall that bruised her tailbone. But that last one has snowballed.

    First, too much pain medication. Then a urinary tract infection (in the elderly, that can cause dementia-like symptoms. Curing that, she’s still got Sundowner Syndrome, which also is like dementia OR ACCOMPANIES dementia. We give her round the clock care now, while wondering if the syndrome will last or clear up. Coming to grips with those possibilities is tough enough. But maladies suffered by other family members and some suspicious symptoms I have, also has me grappling with questions…. like… What’s Next? What do I do if I start developing incapacities?

    So I grasp where you’re at. And I wish you painlessness, comfort and healing. And lots of laughter yet to come.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    hey Andy, I just assumed you were flitting around with the doc when you weren’t frequenting the Broca! Dot didn’t say anything the other day either…so big Get Well soon, you! x

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Carolyn Tonahill wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this personal experience with us. I pray you are doing better and that your health will be fully restored.

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Brown wrote:

    Blessings for your well-being! Strength to stay off the cigs! And so much gratitude for your devotion to ridding this world of injustice!

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevi Brannelly wrote:

    oh andy i;m so sorry to hear this–another case of bad things to good people–all the best in your recovery

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    Danielle Radicanin wrote:

    Andy, my thoughts and best wishes are with you. I hope that you have a good support network to walk this journey with you. I am looking forward to hearing good news on your process of recovery. Please keep us all posted !

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Fee MercuryMoon wrote:

    I think you have been ‘got at’ given what you have been exposing. Paranoid? I don’t think so.

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Steph Kadwell wrote:

    I lost my Dad out of the blue 22 years ago, a month after my second child was born. My Mum, now 81, has just been diagnosed with early stage skin cancer. These trials are life changing on a deep and fundamental level. To have to experience these trials with pain and accompanying sleepnessness – man that’s some heavy shit. Stay with us.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Suz Mode wrote:

    Warmest wishes Andy, get well soon. Looking forward to your future work!

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    John Abraham-Watne wrote:

    Powerful insight you were able to get from your time in the hospital. Thanks for sharing your memories…they came through very real to me as I’m around your age and am consistently impressed by the depth of your journalistic knowledge. Hope you’re on the mend!

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Donna Ellison wrote:

    Andy, that was a very moving article. It is hard to imagine that you were going through all that and still doing your wonderful humanitarian work. As for your own health dilemma, I hope a speedy recovery reaches you faster than this Facebook post can make it to your computer!!

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    Sanabil Jafar wrote:

    I am so sorry to hear that Andy.
    Hope with God blessings that you will get well very soon

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    Sabena Siddiqui wrote:

    Get well soon, Andy, wishing you a speedy recovery, God Bless….

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Chris Cook wrote:

    keep your feet up mate!

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    Sandra Budak wrote:

    oh andy i am so sorry to read of your woes… inshallah you will be better soon. i love the bit about realizing your no longer the youthful revolutionary you thought you were, I so recognized that. Five years ago i had my own bump with my mortality when i was diagnosed with cancer. From my own experience I can say just take your time at getting well. You may have to start slowing down, your priorities might change. You have done such great work but for now you really have to think of yourself and concentrate on getting better…

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Peter Metrinko wrote:

    Know that there will be lots of people thinking good thoughts about you.

  52. Andy Worthington says...

    Sylvia Martin wrote:

    All good wishes to you from the U.S., Andy.

  53. Andy Worthington says...

    Dhyanne Green wrote:

    Bugger!!! Prayers are with and for you. At least you can still type which is good!!! Peace – Love – Blessings

  54. Andy Worthington says...

    Elizabeth McKinley wrote:

    Bugger it all! Good vibes to you from Colorado, USA. I am quite surprised you are 49–I’m 50–and you do not look to be 49.

    As far as any scientist or philosopher or theologian knows, humans are the only organisms known to be aware of their own mortality. One “gift” of our advanced brain is self-awareness. Death is the basic tenet of Irving Yalom’s existential model of human behavior. Trying to find meaning in our existence…I think, therefore I am…our own life and the lives of the people we love are so important to us but what does it mean in the big picture?

    Facing our own mortality is something all of us must do. You have chosen to be proactive and embrace it. Bravo to you for doing so! Get better!

  55. Andy Worthington says...

    Debra Sweet wrote:

    You may not be a young revolutionary, but you are a resilient one! Much love from here in the belly of the beast where we depend on your writing and your good spirit ~

  56. Andy Worthington says...

    Robin Laurain wrote:

    Love to you.

  57. Andy Worthington says...

    Angus Lindsay wrote:

    May you have a speedy and complete recovery. I am sure that you are in the thoughts and prayers of all those who have been touched by your assiduous struggle for truth and justice on behalf of those who suffer oppression in Gitmo and elsewhere.

  58. Andy Worthington says...

    Lina Thorne wrote:

    Please get well soon! You are needed more than you know…

  59. Andy Worthington says...

    Thomas Nephew wrote:

    Hope this finds you on the mend after some much needed sleep. Thanks for all you’ve done — now take care of yourself! so you can keep taking care of others. Get well soon.

  60. Andy Worthington says...

    Rula Borelli wrote:

    I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing, may he rest in peace. I hope you’re doing better now, and congratulations on quitting smoking, the best decision you’ll ever make regarding your health. Take care.

  61. Andy Worthington says...

    Malcolm Bush wrote:

    I can only hope that you recover soon, I think maybe you have been a bit over worked. Whilst I really do believe you have done wonderful work and made a real difference; you must now slow down and recover. I posted on your web site also (Peace Activist)

  62. Andy Worthington says...

    Reiko Redmonde wrote:

    It’s a lovely view, Andy, but I hope you get out of there soon and feel much better. Hang in there!

  63. Andy Worthington says...

    Nancy Vining Van Ness wrote:

    Thank you for telling us about this. Best wishes as you recover.

  64. Andy Worthington says...

    James Martin wrote:

    Sorry for the trouble in your life right now. Life does go on! I am having trouble, for first time in life, at 60. Mittal Regurgitation. But the problem I’m having is that it seems more that the doctor and his nurses are trying to throw it over me like a potato sack. They listen to part of symptoms and ignore the rest. Something is not right about this. My health care is severely limited. So not sure. Yes, there are reasons for people to intentionally mislead me.

  65. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Smith wrote:

    Andy, thank you for sharing so personally with us. Take care of you; you must be the first priority, for only in loving thus caring for yourself can you love and care for others. Your righteous indignation on behalf of others makes you one of the few I have appreciation, admiration and deep respect for. Be well, truth teller.

  66. Andy Worthington says...

    Sylvia P. Coley wrote:

    Andy, acceptance. I have had three incidents where I believed to be dying and so did the doctors, acceptance just comes, no fighting, no regrets, nothing like that, you do your best to stay on board, but there is a sudden and formidable silence, peace and acceptance, I hope that helps, hope you get better very soon.

  67. Andy Worthington says...

    Diana Murtaugh Coleman wrote:

    Andy, so very sorry about your father’s death, your mother’s illness, and your current health woes…it’s a terrible lot at once, and I do hope that all the good work and kind spirit you put forth is manifest for you during this time. I know that those of us who follow your work and so appreciate your commitment to humanity are with you across the continents…take good care…diana

  68. Andy Worthington says...

    Amor Stacey wrote:

    Wish u quick recovery take it easy everything will be ok

  69. Andy Worthington says...

    Dave Tinham wrote:

    hope they can sort it soon andy

  70. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I hope all will be well with you, Andy. This shocked me late last night, when I woke up briefly at 1:00. Ms Grayson is right. Please slow down when you get out of hospital. I’ve thought for several weeks that you were overworking yourself. I was moved by your reflections and am hoping for the best. I’ve been having similar thoughts: the problem described online in my link is far from resolved. I decided to ease up several days ago. It’s necessary. So recover well, relax, and keep up the good work.

  71. Andy Worthington says...

    Sharon Askew wrote:

    Take care Andy

  72. Andy Worthington says...

    Luke Brandt wrote:

    best wishes for a return to good health

  73. Andy Worthington says...

    Suzzie Sari ‎wrote:

    Get well soon Andy… and Keep Writing…*)

  74. Andy Worthington says...

    Susanna Lafond wrote:

    Best wishes Andy – and look after yourself for your family, they need you more than the people you are helping

  75. Andy Worthington says...

    Jun Alvez Mendoza wrote:

    Hope everything turns out well with you. Get up soon and write more!

  76. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Osbourne wrote:

    Best wishes for a rapid recovery Andy. Sounds like you’ve had a very difficult year.

  77. Andy Worthington says...

    Matt Scott wrote:

    We’re all thinking of you and wishing you well; with love – Matt, Vicky, Thomas and Rachel

  78. Andy Worthington says...

    Nafisah Khan wrote:

    Sorry to hear this. Get better.

  79. Andy Worthington says...

    David Harrold wrote:

    Dear Andy, Get well soon. (I too have mortality thoughts and my father died last month.) You have had a punishing schedule and have done tremendous work in keeping the campaign going and spreading the knowledge. It’s about time you had a break. With whatever number of toes, I’m sure you’ll bounce back. Very best wishes.

  80. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    That is the most beautiful piece you have ever written – it was deeply moving!

  81. Andy Worthington says...

    Bob Powell wrote:

    Hope you are better

  82. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    my thoughts are with you, here’s to a full recovery Andy

  83. Andy Worthington says...

    A touch of compassion wrote:

    Thank you Andy Worthington, for all your hard work and support to stop Injustice even very ill still fight and give a lesson to every one of us.

  84. Andy Worthington says...

    Maggie Hansen wrote:

    Hope you’re getting better Andy. Some good people are looking after you and we are all wishing you well. Congrats on giving up the cigarettes.

  85. Andy Worthington says...

    Annabelle Parker wrote:

    Dear Andy, I just read your story, and want to wish you a speedy recovery and good healing. Take your time, as someone else noted, we are here for you.

  86. Andy Worthington says...

    Fee MercuryMoon wrote:

    They all need you Andy. Your family and all those you have/are helping. The world needs more people like you. You are one of my inspirations. XXX

  87. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you everybody for the wealth of kind and supportive messages, which are very much appreciated.

  88. Andy Worthington says...

    Fee MercuryMoon wrote:

    ‎(((HUGS)))

  89. Andy Worthington says...

    Phil Steele wrote:

    All the best from the Bangor crew, get well soon. & well written.

  90. Andy Worthington says...

    Lizzie Cornish wrote:

    Dear Andy, first of all, I wish you well, hope you get back on your feet in every way as soon as possible..Older Revolutionaries are, of course, far more to be treasured, for they have a wealth of experience, of memories,of hard earned wisdom and compassion…As life moves us on down that conveyer belt, we sense time running away, so perhaps our anger increases, along with our own inner power, which again is a wonderful thing. With regard to mortality, death hit me at the same time as birth, when I lost two little souls inbetween my two living children. I had to live with that mortality constantly on my shoulder for a year or more, not knowing the outcome of the medical situation. I would not swap the wisdom I gained during that time for anything, despite the pain. A sense of mortality, an experience of death, despite the agony, is a very moving emotion, for everything becomes precious, everything *matters* so much more than it perhaps once did…I hope your pain gets better fast over the next few days…and as for unbroken sleep…ahhh….what every pregnant woman goes through towards the end…and I can tell you that on the night that Real Sleep comes back in to your life, you’ll sink like a baby into your pillows, relishing the night ahead, moving your body in a pain-free and utterly comfortable ecstasy….and suddenly such a simple thing in life becomes surrounded by a golden haze of luxury. Love and hugs to you..Enjoy the beautiful view from your room and ponder on those within that building opposite, how they are spending their days, what they’re doing for their country, for others in this world..I’ve a feeling your view will inspire many words yet to come….Look after yourself..xx

  91. Andy Worthington says...

    Harsha, your comment, “You are required to be around for important work!” made me laugh, and others — too many to mention — touched me with your lovely demonstrations of sympathy and true friendship — even though many of you are, of course, friends I’ve met though Facebook. It shows to me that real depth is available through the Internet and social networking — new kinds of friendships focused on words and emotions.

    And Fee, I was only “got at” in the sense that, by committing myself so fully to tackling the crimes committed in the “War on Terror,” and the victims of those crimes, I wore myself out. There’s definitely a causal connection, but I don’t think I’d win a court case (wouldn’t it be great if I could!) and in the end, it was my own hectic workload, fuelled by coffee and cigarettes, involving countless late nights and the exhilaration of deadlines, that made me ill.

  92. Andy Worthington says...

    As for recovery, I wrote the article before I was inducted into a morphine program that is evidently so strong that it requires special clearance, but it has worked, and for the last two nights I’ve actually had unbroken sleep for at least four hours — which, I can tell you, is totally and positively transformative after weeks of sleep deprivation.

    I can also confirm that the artery-expanding infusions, which involve me being hooked up to a machine for six hours a day — albeit a portable machine that I can wheel around like a mechanical pet — are successfully encouraging the return of the vital blood flow to the affected toes of my right foot, which is very good news indeed! I’m not out of the woods, but these do seem to be genuinely positive developments. The treatment involves five days of these six-hour sessions, and the third begins this afternoon.

  93. Andy Worthington says...

    Lizzie Cornish wrote:

    And thank you for a beautiful piece of writing too. x

  94. Cheryl Newsom says...

    Andy,

    The short time I’ve known you on Facebook I have come to admire you for your unfailing efforts in the fight for justice in Guantanimo.
    I have often pondered upon, what I mistakenly thought, the many more fruitful hours in the day there would be without ‘waste’ on sleep. You have certainly corrected that musing with your touching article.
    You have proven that you are indeed a trooper with a big, caring heart, may that heart and the caring and well wishes of others get you to the side of wellness soon.
    I wish for you a miraculously speedy recovery.

  95. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Cheryl, for the considered and supportive comments.

  96. Andy Worthington says...

    Lizzie Cornish wrote (in response to 92):

    Oh, that’s GREAT news, Andy..! :0)

  97. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    Good to hear, glad you’re on the mend

  98. Andy Worthington says...

    Hélène Lomenech wrote:

    That view… Reminds me of some night shifts there… and your story through finding out what is wrong and being dealt with… Sadly reminded me of why things go so wrong here and why so many people suffer more than they should and why so many things go so wrong when dealt with faster it would be fine :( It makes me so angry! So much ignorance and indifference towards people’s suffering and these idiots who still want to cut cost on the NHS!!!

  99. Andy Worthington says...

    Hélène Lomenech wrote:

    I like the pictures and enjoyed reading your words… I do find it rather interesting too that in the context of your work you’re right in front of that building! ;) All the best Andy. X

  100. Andy Worthington says...

    Fee MercuryMoon wrote:

    Irony has the ultimate sense of humour Hélène XX

  101. Andy Worthington says...

    Dahlia Lithwick wrote:

    Be well Andy. You are irreplaceable

  102. Andy Worthington says...

    Jane Smith wrote:

    ‎….So sorry to hear about your loss Andy…Your fans who love what you write, and what do are in your corner. May you find some peace of mind in this time of tribulation.

  103. Andy Worthington says...

    Gillian Talwar wrote:

    wishing you a total recovery. Be thankful too that you are not in the US where, if you do not have insurance, this treatment would set you back enormous sums of money. Even if you do have insurance you would be looking at several thousand pounds of copayments.

  104. Andy Worthington says...

    Stephen Summers wrote:

    get well soon mate

  105. Andy Worthington says...

    John Davis Butz wrote:

    Get better soon, Andy.
    And welcome to the ranks of non-smokers everywhere.

  106. Andy Worthington says...

    Doug Tarnopol wrote:

    Holy crap — get better, Andy!

  107. Andy Worthington says...

    Mui J. Steph wrote:

    Please get well, Andy. The world needs you.

  108. Andy Worthington says...

    Mui J. Steph wrote:

    BTW. You may find your self more opinionated if you’ve quit smoking. I’ve had that experience many times.

  109. Andy Worthington says...

    Chip Pitts wrote:

    Wow — good luck in dealing with all this, Andy. We’re thinking of and praying for you –

  110. Andy Worthington says...

    Anne McClintock wrote:

    All the best healing energy to you, Andy! You are surrounded by people who love and admire you. Your piece is wonderfully moving.

  111. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, everyone, for the wonderfully supportive comments. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the woods yet — and you probably wouldn’t if you saw my foot right now — but you’d certainly notice an improvement if I showed you what it looked like just a few days ago.

  112. Andy Worthington says...

    Helene, I agree re: the NHS, and how the last thing it needs is money taken away from it by scumbag politicians with a privatizing agenda. Although there is confusion and waste, the NHS is the size of a small country, and probably works much better than many comparable governments.

    What’s interested me with this particular ailment of mine is seeing the doctors and consultants as detectives of illness and disease, working methodically, in their various departments, to discover what was wrong with me and what would work best to aid my recovery.

    And as for payment, of course, the UK’s system of free access to the NHS for all, paid for through taxation, remains something so admirable, so fair, and so true to the first principles of those who, hundreds of years ago, first pooled their resources to provide insurance for one another, that I weep when I hear about how profiteers have barged in every step of the way in the US, bringing misery to families and individuals solely to line their own pockets..

  113. Yusuf a.k.a. Perry says...

    Unexpected events, especially in our personal lives, do lead us to rethink and see in a totally different perspective this life and where it has brought us today. Cheers to you buddy! Get well soon Andy!

  114. Kent says...

    Andy,

    Rest assured that your trials which sound daunting have not diminished your remarkable writing ability. “Intimations” is damn fine writing from the gut.

    Really sorry about your foot problems. Sounds like they may be under control.

    And if you do reassess the work/play balance as some have suggested, Dot and Tyler are the best.

    Get well. We still have to take Ben and Tyler on an adventure.

    With great affection.
    Kent

  115. Kent says...

    P.S. I am truly amazed and impressed at the cessation of smoking. You can still drink lots of coffee. :)

  116. Andy Worthington says...

    Back on Facebook, Deborah Emin wrote:

    I pray for your complete and happy recovery, including a non-nicotine enabled drive to write.

  117. Andy Worthington says...

    Leonardo L Larl wrote:

    keep strong Andy.

  118. Andy Worthington says...

    Doug Tarnopol wrote:

    Andy, I presume you and Jason Leopold are in contact, considering you work on the same issues. He’s gone through a lot re: mortality, though in a different way (he’s not sick). Maybe you guys can help each other out on that score? :) We all have to face it sooner or later….

  119. Andy Worthington says...

    Deborah Emin wrote:

    Please save all graphic re-enactments of the damaged toes for another time. I do believe you and am always eager to read what you write but perhaps a full description of the toes can be implied rather than described? Do get well soon though so we can continue to be informed. You are really one of the best reporters on this subject.

  120. Andy Worthington says...

    Doug Tarnopol wrote:

    Andy, in all seriousness, my cat gets better healthcare than we do. I joked to his vet that my wife and I would like to come to him. Punchline — he says he hears that joke CONSTANTLY. Neither of us laughed.

  121. Andy Worthington says...

    Nicholas Racz wrote:

    I’m very sorry to hear about all this Andy. To a swift and full recovery!

  122. Andy Worthington says...

    Alex Grace wrote:

    Andy! My goodness poor you….Thinking of you and wishing you wellness….much much love and see you when you’re up and about.

  123. Andy Worthington says...

    Robert Rister wrote:

    Two years ago I suffered a failure of a mesenteric artery after getting dehydrated. I’m not a triathlete, although it most commonly occurs in triathletes, and it’s about 90% fatal in 36 hours. However, not only did I not have to have my guts ripped out surgically, I walked out the front door of the hospital intact because I had collateral circulation–and because my doctors did not take drastic measures suddenly. I hope you keep your toes. I know that sort of thing is possible.It took a long time to recover, however.

  124. Andy Worthington says...

    Lance Ciepiela wrote:

    A time of reflection even as time rushes on – hope you are recovering successfully and finding peace.

  125. Andy Worthington says...

    Newsom Cheryl wrote:

    Keep the sense of humor, Andy!

  126. Andy Worthington says...

    Judy Ajifu wrote:

    Great piece on mortality! Wishing you a speedy recovery, Andy! Happy to see you’ve quit the cancer sticks ;). Sending thoughts of healing from Silicon Valley…

  127. Andy Worthington says...

    Yusuf F. Kruz wrote:

    Great sharing! Get well soon buddy!:-)))

  128. Andy Worthington says...

    Kathy Guruwaya wrote:

    I didn’t think I could like you anymore than I already do but apparently I can. :) Take good care of yourself, Andy, you are much loved by many. I’m so happy that you’ve given up smoking! My profile pic is of my mom, she died 6 mos. ago, my dad died 20 years ago. It’s odd being an orphan at 46. With the current state of the world I, too, ponder my mortality daily. I keep wondering what’s gonna do me in: a political/natural disaster of some sort or me hitting my head in the tub one nite. The time we are living in is not for the weak, nor is Middle Age. Blessings to you and your family. ♥

  129. Andy Worthington says...

    Caroline Wise wrote:

    wishing you well

  130. Andy Worthington says...

    Sharon Tipton wrote:

    Andy, your piece is especially touching to me because it shows me your humanity, vulnerable and frail, even aware of it’s frailty, yet powerful to pursue justice and truth to share with us all. So glad you had a good relationship with your father – Hope he is celebrated at every chance! Viva

  131. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Andy, Your remarks about the NHS struck home here. I lived in London in 71, on vacation from my job near NYC. I’m of American birth and was 29. The NHS helped me efficiently and more than adequately. A doctor took time out and told me how the NHS worked..That made me into an occasional healthcare activist (for taxbased systems) and was one of the main reasons I left the States for good. It pains me to see what’s being planned for the NHS. Similar things are going on here in Sweden and are fully in place in the Netherlands. So I’m with you on all this and more. Good luck for your continuing recovery.

  132. Andy Worthington says...

    Kathleen Stout wrote:

    Andy, I’m sorry you’re having to suffer through this. Smoking, caffeine and all the travelling you’ve been doing ae pretty nasty on the circulation.I hope you take a long well-earned rest and get healthy again. You are just one person and, indeed, mortal. Take care of yourself. You’ve done more than your fair share. What a view!!!!! WOW! The sleeplessness is the final insult!!! I’ve been dealing with similar problem for months… really annoying….

  133. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Jo Muser wrote:

    Many blessings Andy and good recovery. my long time friend is going through a similar situation with his right foot turning black and noone able to figure it out I understand, thank you for standing up for those whose voices have been silenced by injustice. You will be in in my daily meditations for healing hugs .

  134. Andy Worthington says...

    Nusrat Raouf wrote:

    Wish u a quick recovery my prays are with you.

  135. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner wrote:

    Sending love & hugs and best wishes, Andy!! Reposting w/ my own personal twist for you — something a little extra special!! ♥ Chris

  136. Andy Worthington says...

    Malcolm Davy-Barnes wrote:

    Wishing you all the best Andy. I work in the NHS and if only politicians would fund it properly and stop trying to mask the lack of funding with weapons of mass distraction we’d be able to just get on to do our best to help the healing. Get well soon, I guess your feet must be tired, standing up for so many people. One Love.

  137. Andy Worthington says...

    Jason Leopold wrote:

    Andy! I am so, so sorry! I wish you a speedy recovery! Thinking about you here in the US my friend.

  138. Andy Worthington says...

    Hana Mulla wrote:

    awww Andy..firstly please accept my condolences on the passing of your father..may he rest in peace..hope your mother is comfortable and can overcome her illness quickley..& wishing you a very speedy recovery & good health..all the very best with ‘quitting’ the smoking habit..take good care & keep your chin up!..

  139. Andy Worthington says...

    David Nicholl wrote:

    Get well soon, Andy…always put your health first, the rest will follow.

    David

  140. Andy Worthington says...

    Carlos Sardiña Galache wrote:

    My condolences for the passing of your father. I hope you get well soon. Best wishes from Spain.

  141. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Where have I been, Andy? Too caught up in my own problems that I didn’t even know you were ill or about the loss of you dad. I’m really sorry, Andy – I’d share your pain if I could. You must have been suffering when we met in Edinburgh recently but you never complained. We discussed mortality at the sudden death of Faraj Hassan and agreed that we shouldn’t take life for granted and assume that there is always tomorrow to make that phone call and catch up with friends…..and then I carried on as usual

  142. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Once you are pain free and take the time to recover you will be a new man and I’ll be standing alone outside with a bag over my head ;) My thoughts are with you, your wife who must be massively worried and Tyler who will find it very hard to see his dad in hospital. Come up to Scotland to recuperate. Spring has sprung here. BTW what an amazing view from your hospital room. I think the NHS must know you are an exceptional man who deserved an exceptional view.

  143. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, everyone, for the latest responses. Wonderful words.

    And Kathy, I was particularly moved by your words — not only your expression of how, through my words, I have formed a relationship with you and others, but also in your evocation of being an orphan at 46 and the considerations that come with that, and your insight into the hardening of life for anyone but the rich and well-connected.

  144. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann, I’m sitting here at the window of St. Thomas’, it’s 10 past 1 and every other patient is asleep, and I was just laughing my head off at that description of yourself as standing alone outside with a bag over your head — Brilliant!

    As for the view, if the NHS did think that, it didn’t last long. After a day they needed the room and moved me to a ward on the floor above looking along the river towards the London Eye and the City. Again, a spectacular view, but nothing compared to the private room across the river from Parliament that was mine for the first 24 hours or so. Anyway, it turns out that the only place I can get Internet reception on my new floor is right by the window in the day room, on top of the paper recycling bin! Yes, that’s right — on the bin. It literally doesn’t work anywhere else!

  145. Andy Worthington says...

    Amir Khan wrote:

    I hope you are feeling better and on a fast track to speedy recovery my friend. We miss your regular column, you’re the voice that exposes the injustices of our respective government policies.

  146. Andy Worthington says...

    Salmah Yousuf wrote:

    Get well soon andy.

  147. Andy Worthington says...

    Noa Kleinman wrote:

    Dear Andy – I only just heard of your illness from Polly. I am so sorry. I havn’t been keeping up. Get well soon.

  148. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to Kent (at 115 and 116):

    Thanks, Kent. Really good to hear from you.
    And an adventure for the boys — the teenagers, I should say — would be a wonderful thing, one of these days. Let me get walking again first, as I’m pretty sure it would have to involve some walking …!

  149. Andy Worthington says...

    Kirsten Emm wrote:

    My god, Andy! Just read this! Can’t believe you’ve been going through this recently, so sorry to hear of your discomfort :( I really hope whatever treatment you continue to go under will only speed up your recovery as soon as possible… as I’m sure everyone has either said directly, or at least touched upon, you and your work are far too important for you to turn in to a mere “mechanical pet” (nor for you to have to rely upon one), haha ;)

    Wishing you very well; and thinking of you my friend! Get better soon!! x

  150. Andy Worthington says...

    Diane V. McLoughlin wrote:

    get well soon, Andy.

  151. Andy Worthington says...

    Omar Deghayes wrote:

    Hi Andy hope all well with operation…..Best wishes

  152. Andy Worthington says...

    Shahla Nuh wrote:

    Hello Andy! I pray for your quick recovery. All the best to you.

  153. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Omar. Good to hear from you. Have fun at the Bradford film festival with Polly tomorrow, and I’m sorry I can’t be there.

    As for my foot, there won’t be an operation, as blood thinners and an artery-widening infusion appear to be bringing life back to my dead toes. Time will tell if this is 100 percent successful, and how long I’ll need to be on prescription drugs, but at least my condition is improving, and I should be back home early next week, where home visits will be positively encouraged!

  154. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Shahla. Very good to hear from you.

  155. Andy Worthington says...

    (in response to 147):

    Thanks, Noa. Don’t worry, it was kind of a secret until recently. Sorry I won’t be seeing you in Bradford this Saturday.

  156. Andy Worthington says...

    Nino Gulli wrote:

    A penetrating piece! I shared it on my wall. Hope you get well soon! Best wishes:)

  157. Andy Worthington says...

    Naz Humanitarian wrote:

    I am so glad to hear you are on the mend. The fact you have given up smoking and drinking is a good news indeed. It just gets better when you say you will continue with your work. Please do look after yourself.

  158. Anna says...

    Dear Andy, the ‘comments’ opened miraculously (!) so that I could wish your toes the best of health! When I think that I made you run to catch trains …
    So happy to read that you are feeling a bit better and that the treatment works!
    No more smoking, but when you will have caught up on sleep, do have a double expresso, relax, and remember that you are and always will be a Young Revolutionary, and don’t you ever let anyone (including yourself!) suggest you are not! Love and get well soon and completely, Anna

  159. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Anna, for your thoughts and advice — and for the daily emails you’re sending me while I’m out of circulation! It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

  160. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Willy Bach wrote:
    Andy, sorry to hear about your health. I hope the doctors are helping you back to active health. Sorry, I have been on the move with less than adequate internet. Get well soon.

  161. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Willy. I had figured that you must be away, or felt sure that I would have heard from you! Thank you for the support. All being well, I’ll be back home next week, and fully mobile in the next couple of weeks …

  162. On Anti-Cuts Protest In London, 500,000 Say No – OpEd « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] been following my work closely will understand that I was not able to be on the march today, as I’m in St. Thomas’ Hospital, where I’m undergoing treatment for a serious and painful blocking of the blood supply to the [...]

  163. On the Anti-Cuts Protest in London | Amauta says...

    [...] been following my work closely will understand that I was not able to be on the march today, as I’m in St. Thomas’ Hospital, where I’m undergoing treatment for a serious and painful blocking of the blood supply to the [...]

  164. Abandonment Of Guantánamo’s Uighurs - OpEd says...

    [...] also sent it to me to publish, but at the time I was in the Welsh hills, on vacation and recuperating from a serious illness, and when I came to address it I was suddenly overwhelmed by the release of the WikiLeaks documents [...]

  165. Make No Mistake, Government Plans To Privatise Our Precious Health Service - OpEd says...

    [...] relationship between myself and the NHS’s blood clinics, which began earlier this year, when I suffered a blood clot and nearly lost one or more of my toes. As a lifelong user of the blood-thinning drug Warfarin, I [...]

  166. Tom says...

    Sorry for your loss. Also, a suggestion. Pay attention to the effects of things on you. Maybe something is second nature (eating a large bag of crisps and drinking 2 pints a day). Do you really need this to feel better? I’m not saying never have fun. Just consider that maybe a change might help. One reason? In my case, doing that has helped me to clean up a lot of my health. Over a 2 year period, I lost about 100 lbs.(10 stone?) and try to lay off junk food as much as possible. Hope this helps.

  167. Andy Worthington says...

    Wow, that’s some weight loss, Tom. Congratulations!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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