Last Friday I was discharged from hospital at 6pm. By 11pm I was in a state of meltdown and readmitted.

Within those five hours of freedom I was freezing while sitting in front of a fan heater, shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t pick up a cup of tea.

When I was discharged from hospital my temperature was 36.2, normal. In five hours it soared to 39.6. Most people don’t survive very long if it stays above 40.

My heartbeat was double my normal level and kept rising; my blood pressure collapsed and kept going down and down.

Reluctantly I headed back to hospital. The senior house doctor said if I’d left it much longer it could have been curtains.

I really didn’t want to go back and kept delaying the departure from home so much that the hospital staff rang and said: “We expected you to arrive by now. Where are you?”

I was still sitting in front of the heater trying to warm my cold bones and get dressed, completely unaware of the danger zone I was entering.

When my partner Jane and I arrived back on the oncology ward, the nurse and doctor spent the next six hours trying every trick in the book to stabilize my condition.

From my perspective it was fascinating watching them work, trying different techniques until the lack of response became clear and they shifted tack.

I was in a daze and having a very strange out-of-the-body experience where I could see all these things being done to me but I didn’t feel anything and wasn’t involved. It was like watching a drama on TV and not realising I was the main character.

From the nurse and doctor point of view it was totally intense. I could see the lines of tension twitch on their faces.

The senior house doctor later said he was seconds away from calling the Intensive Care Unit when my blood pressure started to shift direction.

It was like a war zone when all of a sudden the smoke cleared and he could see which way the battle was going. I asked him later if he thought I was going to die at that point and he replied: “We still had a lot of weapons left in our arsenal.”

From the point of view of my partner, Jane, it was the dark, cold, small area of the night, mostly silent with quietly frantic moments.

I could see her sitting in the corner of the room with the wide, intent eyes of an artist taking in every detail. She had no idea if she was watching me die or not.

The thought did flicker across my mind as well. So this is how it happens…in a silent crucible where nobody says anything but you know instinctively that you’re going down a new path.

I closed my eyes, relaxed and stopped ripping out the oxygen support. When the crisis point passed I rejoined the drama and felt it move in a different direction.

It was a long, difficult night and several CT scans and blood tests later we still don’t know exactly what caused the crisis but my vital signs are on an even keel at the moment.

When this episode was over Jane said in her forever practical manner: “Bill, we’ve never talked about the details of what kind of funeral you want. I still don’t know what music you would like. Maybe we’d better get cracking on that now.”