I stumble out of the surgery in some dull state of shock, his words ringing in my ears.

The road outside is noisy; traffic passing each way, a brewery lorry unloading. But I hear nothing. I just walk, my eyes fixed to some random point in the far distance, my mind blanker than it has ever been. I wonder how to tell the LTLP.

Granddad was a double amputee; Uncle Ernie had polio. Great Uncle Ray was a prisoner of the Japanese. Now I have been diagnosed with tooth abscess.

I cross the mini roundabout and lurch towards the pharmacy. The Baby will not understand – will she ever understand? I am fortunate in that I have friends, family and virtual internet readers who I know will support me in my brave fight against tooth abscess, but sometimes you can have hundreds of people around you yet still be alone. With shock I realise that I am already sinking into negative thoughts just ten minutes into my battle.

I resolve to write to the Observer. If I can face tooth abscess with wit, good-humour and poignant humanity then they will probably give me a column in their magazine. Being the person who brings the ‘TA’ word out of the dark and into an environment where people are not afraid to talk might be my crowning achievement in life, aside from once starting a conversation with Tony Hadley in a lavatory.

The pharmacist takes ages. It transpires that the antibiotics prescribed are the ones with which you absolutely totally and utterly must not touch alcohol. A new blow. It is too early to let it go and take the inevitable decision that the cure is worse than the disease itself; I will bear the treatment for now and know I can rely on the support of my neighbours to help me through this.