It’s hard to know how long I will be off work, assuming that I get through the process successfully. Going by the doctor’s estimates, we’re probably looking at around Christmas to fully recover.

I can’t afford that without income protection insurance. I’ve just about used up my sick leave, and I have some annual leave up my sleeve. I haven’t been able to submit an application for the insurance because work had been tardy with putting through the EOFY pay rise. As you’re entitled to 75% of your salary in income protection, I had to wait for that.

I was on my way to the hospital on Wednesday when I got a call from my direct manager advising that the pay increase had come through. Deep breath.

We’ve been talking and debating about this for a long time. Lots of vague promises were made, but no firm commitments, but all of us were led to believe that the Product Owner role was mine.

That didn’t happen, and I have to wonder if it would have been different if I wasn’t off work with cancer? That might be stretching it, but I feel abandoned. Ultimately, the pay rise was $6K, which falls within the insulting range – bearing in mind this is the first increase for two years, and the Product Owner role would command an extra $30K-$40K. (I do get a $3K bonus).

I was furious. All the way into the city on the train, I fumed. It was a miserable day. Rain and hail and bitterly cold winds. I got off at Parliament station running a little late. Though it was the first day out of lockdown, there weren’t many people around.

There’s a particularly long escalator at Parliament. I started to climb it to make up time. About halfway up, I encountered an older woman with a collection of bags blocking the way. “Excuse me,” I said, expecting her to step aside and let me through.

Instead, she started haranguing me and wouldn’t stop. I had earbuds in listening to music and only picked up scraps of her diatribe, though why she was so angry, I couldn’t figure. She was animated and histrionic, speaking in a voice with an accent sounding like it might come from one of the weightlifting countries.

After about 30 seconds of this, abruptly, I had enough of it. I felt my anger rise, stoked by the disappointment of an inadequate pay rise, and probably concern at my condition. Without taking out my earbuds, I said: “Shut up, you old bag.”

This was very out of character. Though it felt good, it’s rare I let my emotions rule like that. It’s not that I’m pure at heart. I can be very blunt. I’m happy to speak my mind when the situation calls for it and can be very cutting, even coarse, though almost always with cool control. And I’m very familiar with the curt, masculine language we men will occasionally exchange.

For all that, I’m well mannered and polite. I’m of that generation and class where it comes naturally. Even now, I will address elders using a pronoun, unless otherwise permitted. I open doors – regardless of gender, and let people go before me, and hold open lift doors for those coming. On a crowded train, I’ll give up my seat to those deserving. As a matter of course, I say please and thank-you, and believe such simple grace is a mark of civilisation.

Never before in my life have I opened as I did to an older woman, no matter how discourteous she was. Do I regret it? No. But I doubt I’ll do it again.

Not that it mattered. I might never have said a thing, for it didn’t interrupt her flow, which she continued all the way up to the top. But it felt good to vent.

The upshot of this is that I’ll not have as much to live off when my income protection comes through. I’ve started the application process by submitting a request to reduce the waiting period to 30 days – that would fall due on. August 7. I was unable to submit an application for insurance because their systems were down. Either way, it’ll take weeks before it gets approved – probably when I’m in hospital.

Right now, the right side of my face has puffed up. I feel my eye closing. It worries me. I’ll be on the phone to the hospital tomorrow.

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