Every time I get a head cold, I remind myself I should be swimming in gratitude each day that I am well.

I’m glad you tell the truth about the situation. I’m glad you don’t pretend to be feeling better than you are.

If good wishes and thoughts were cures, you’d be walking without assistance and writing with your hands. I am VERY MUCH hoping you get back the use of your hands.

I don’t know what else to say. Except this:

I am stunned at how arbitrary life is. How just a freak accident can cause this amount of dreadful.

Oh, another thing: thanks for taking the time to yell at your computer. Your readers are grateful.

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Hi Hanif,

I’m not sure if you’ve come across this poem.

Wishing you well.

“The Thing Is


      The thing is

      to love life, to love it even

      when you have no stomach for it

      and everything you’ve held dear

      crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

      your throat filled with the silt of it.

      When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

      thickening the air, heavy as water

      more fit for gills than lungs;

      when grief weights you like your own flesh

      only more of it, an obesity of grief,

      you think, How can a body withstand this?

      Then you hold life like a face

      between your palms , a plain face ,

no charming face , no violet eyes ,

and you say , yes , I will take you

I will love you again.

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Oh Hanif, my heart goes out to you! My own week in the hospital for blood clots in my lungs feels paltry next to your cataclysm, but it helps in understanding a bit more what your days must be like. I would love to come to Rome, sit by your bedside and hold your hand. I would tell you how much your entries here touch me. I would tell you that your loving heart is so strong it can even touch this 75 year old woman 6000+ miles away. 🩷

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Hello Hanif.

From your hospital bed, your first dispatches reached me early in the new year. Not long after your accident. It is through you I discovered substack. It is through your honest and direct dispatches, that I was inspired to write my own newsletter and musings. Stories about my life and what I’ve learned along the way.

The writing has been a salve to me. As I release what’s been buried and hidden deep inside. For some reason, your story, your realness caught me and inspired me. If only to realize life can change in a blink so get on with it. Whatever it is.

Thank you for being my inspiration to write again. I wish I could blink and make it so you were back in London. Thinking of you, Isabella and your family who are making your dispatches possible. Sending love from Canada.

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Would be happy to come to Rome to visit you even if it’s only for a short while and at the same time as other visitors: is anyone coordinating the visits?

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Did you asked media not to talk about you? I hate this silence. At the Libri come festival in Rome Marino Sinibaldi talked about you briefly and I loved it. With our love and energy we will make you use your hands again ❤️

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Dearest Hanif,

I was very ill myself some years ago when, in a curious flash of inspiration, The Buddha of Suburbia announced itself as the subject of my Master’s thesis in English Literature. Your literary voice has since become a true friend, a soothing presence I turn to in times of distress… The news of your fall hit me very hard.

It looks like now it’s my turn to send you some healing energy - the jaunty guitars, bouncy rhythms and ingenious, funny and poignant lyrics by Bid of The Monochrome Set, whose hospitalisation after a ruptured brain aneurysm served as the inspiration for this album.

“Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome” recalls the medical device deploying platinum coils up his blood stream and into his brain to dissolve potentially lethal blood clots, and the painful and phantasmagorical experience of it all. I hope it amuses and inspires you in equal measure, and makes your own hospital ordeal a little easier to endure.


And at sundown, come along to the dream theatre of Scarlet’s Well…


I’ll be here to hold your hand, together with thousands of people around the world who follow your hospital updates; sending you healing energy to speed up your recovery, so that you may soon return to your London home, and into the loving arms of your family.

I will keep visualising you sitting at your desk, nimble fingers running over a selection of fresh writing paper… Reaching for your favourite pen, joy rushing through your veins.

May that moment come soon.

Your loving reader,


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It is a shame that you likely won't be able to make the giant leap from Italy to an appropriate rehab facility in the UK. I understand the logic. The NHS must make it's own assessment of your needs. Still, placing you in a general hospital while you await an assessment feels counter-productive. I hope that, if you do have to wait, it will not be for very long.

In the meantime, I have developed a rehab facility that I hope will meet your specific needs. All that is required now is the godlike manifestation of will necessary to conjure it into physical existence.

Working at this facility are a pair of world-renowned physiotherapists, both of whom specialise in hand and finger rehab. One is called Quarty and the other is called Gloyer. Quarty, as you have probably already guessed, specialises in left-hand rehab. Gloyer focuses on the right hand.

You might ask: Why the need for this division? You may even state outright that, broadly speaking, surely both hands are alike in their physiology. If you say this to either Quarty or Gloyer, each man will tighten his lips, drawing upon the NHS meditation techniques which have been tailored to diffuse inadvertent outbursts of swearing, or excessive visits to the screaming cupboard (every NHS hospital has one – there is often a queue to get in). They will each tell you, in their own way, that while this may be true in young people, over time, nurture asserts itself over nature. While the left and the right hands are superficially similar, in terms of rehab they are very different.

Gloyer will openly scoff at the idea that Quarty could ever competently perform rehab on a right hand, and vice versa. There was an incident where Gloyer went on holiday to the Seychelles for three weeks. The director of the hospital, who was new in the job, made the big mistake of asking Quarty whether he would takeover responsibility for right-hand rehab, during his professional counterpart's long absence. Quarty, as you can well imagine, was absolutely furious. He stormed out of the director's office, swearing loudly in Gaelic. The next time he was seen, was with a comically large plaster cast over his right hand. He even threatened to resign, and to return to his former profession as a piano tuner – a job he performed without ever striking a note, relying instead on the tautness of the strings as a measure of whether the instrument was fit for its intended purpose.

That is the other thing about Quarty and Gloyer: Both men hate each other. Their enmity runs so deep, they cannot occupy the same wing of the hospital at the same time. It is this hatred that drives their unprecedented mutual success. When treating someone like yourself, who requires rehab on both hands, the goal of Quarty and Gloyer is to bring about a recovery that will enable their patient to give the middle finger to the rival physiotherapist.

This is taken very seriously. A tally of victories is documented in gold leaf on a wooden plaque. Much like the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge universities, the lead goes back and forth. On those rare occasions where a patient is taught to write with their non-dominant hand, the losing therapist must purchase the victor a bottle of whiskey, that is made in a distillery across the street from the back entrance to the hospital.

Despite their animosity for each other, both Quarty and Gloyer recognise their mutual dependence, and need to co-exist, when it comes to the serious business of treating patients. They plan to retire as a pair.

Hanif, you have a lively mind. That can be a cure for boredom, but also a source of frustration if you cannot do everything that you want to do.

My warmest wishes also to the Maestro.

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I will pray, too, in my own fashion, for the return of useful hands for you. Probably it's small comfort, but if nothing else you are making me and many, many others more aware of and grateful for the ordinary things and that is a gift. Thank you.

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Losing the use of your hands is the worst. That resonated so deeply. Sending love, light and thanks xox

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I am in awe of these passages of beauty you are writing with such honesty and vulnerability and love 🌻🌻🌻

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I’m somewhat new to you. I just found you and I don’t know what happened, but it was devastating to you. Completely life altering. You are weary it’s clear but the hope and curiosity you still have shines through. I hope you don’t mind but I’m stoping my morning right now, falling to my knees and I’m praying fervently for you. Praying that God heals you, that He brings those you need into your life abundantly, that He fills you doctors and nurses with knowledge and a desire to use it for your good, that He lifts your family and fills them with strength and patience and hope when they are weary, that He fills you with peace and purpose, a steady deep knowledge that there is much good left for you to do, that God still has a wonderful incredible purpose for you that is still present and waiting. I see you and I hear you and your God surely does too. I look forward to getting to know you better in future posts!

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Tomorrow you and I leave for a long trip to an appointment in another state. It is a stupid appointment but I have no choice. It involves some red tape over how I travel. Like you, I hate being tied down. You will sit beside me as we roll through the ever changing landscape of New England. You will point out what I am missing, salting your observations with irreverent comments and references to an ever more complicated, vexing, and precious life. Because of my new hearing aids, your voice, for that surely it must be, is now in the middle of my mind. The hours will go by. I will find myself learning things I never could have imagined. For that, as ever, I struggle adequately to thank you.

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As evidenced by these comments, you have a lot of people supporting you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Every day my body finds some way to remind me that it’s ageing, even if I -- my soul, spirit, whatever -- am not. This morning I made myself walk in the rain to the mailbox to drop off a birthday card for my brother-in-law (2 heart attacks and not even 55 yet; he’s still here thanks to modern medicine, good insurance, and stubbornness) and on to the local gas station for coffee (Speedway for those in the States; it’s actually not bad).

It’s a relatively short walk, 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back, and my back complained nearly the entire time. However, noticing small details helped take my mind off the pain: gravel, cigarette butts, the rain on my glasses (which had me trying to remember how to waterproof using a common household item), the pink jacket worn by a little girl waiting with her mother for the school bus.

I put away my novel draft at the start of 2021 and have struggled to write ever since. With your posts, I’m reminded that I’m not out of this game yet. Thanks again.

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I send you my rage as encouragement. Long ago your work popped me awake. I return that life affirming jolt to you now. Bless your analyst with his surprises.

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Sending you prayers of healing energy.

Your wonderful words inspire me to take nothing for granted.


Mary Kay San Pedro California

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