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SARAH VINE: I’m praying for Kate, but my non-fatal hospitalization turned out to be a blessing in disguise

The news that the Princess of Wales was in hospital recovering from abdominal surgery took me back to one morning about 15 years ago.

I had just dropped the kids off at school and was walking the dog before work when I started feeling inexplicably sick. It wasn’t a completely unfamiliar feeling – I had it on and off for a few months. I also had a dull ache in my stomach, again nothing familiar.

I chalked it up to fatigue. So I poked the dog with a treat and sat down at my desk with a hot water bottle hoping it would go away.

Not that. The pain in my stomach intensified.

I was also quite hot and turned an unflattering shade of teal.

News that the Princess of Wales was in hospital recovering from abdominal surgery took me back to one morning about 15 years ago.

Prince William is seen leaving a London clinic after visiting Catherine, Princess of Wales on Thursday

I called my GP (a wonderful woman, now sadly retired) and she told me to come into the office immediately (those were the days, huh?) After a few seconds of prodding she said, “I thought so. It’s appendicitis. You must go straight to the hospital.’

‘Are you sure?’ I asked. “I have to pick up the kids in an hour and I still have things to do. I also have a dinner party tonight…”

She gave me a dark look. ‘HOSPITAL! Now!’ She even called an ambulance.

When I got there the diagnosis was confirmed and I was booked in for quick surgery. In the meantime I was given some very good pain meds. After a while I started to feel a little better and, fearing that things were falling apart at home, I decided that maybe I wasn’t so sick after all. So I put on my shoes and staggered out to find a cab.

There I was found by a young anesthesiologist who had been sent to prepare me for surgery. «Where the hell are you going?» he said. To which I mumbled something about being awfully busy. Very gently, as if dealing with a madman, he took my elbow and led me back inside.

My appendix was found to be a mess and it took the surgeons several hours to deal with it. I was lucky, they said it didn’t crack. I was gently reprimanded for ignoring the sign and we all laughed at my attempt to escape.

It took a good week to get home and at least another week in bed before I felt even vaguely human again.

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But in some ways it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I was 40 years old, with two young children, a full-time job, a busy, often absent husband in a very prominent role—and I was running on empty and spinning too many plates. I wasn’t taking care of myself or getting enough sleep and my diet was terrible. No surprise I got sick. In fact, I sometimes wonder if the developing appendicitis was my body’s way of saying, ‘Enough, lady, we need a break.’ Looking back, I think I just went pfft.

My appendix was found to be a mess and it took the surgeons several hours to deal with it. I was lucky, they said it didn’t crack. I was gently reprimanded for ignoring the sign and we all laughed at my attempt to escape

And I’m not alone. I have a lot of girlfriends who have experienced the same thing, in different ways. One had their hip replaced, another had to have their gallbladder removed. We’ve all had various bits and lumps removed, and we all agree: as horrible as these things are, part of us is just relieved to be able to lie down.

Call it gallows humor, but we joke that every busy working wife and mom needs it from time to time: non-fatal hospitalization, or NFH. Enough to put you out of action for a few weeks, but not enough to actually kill you.

And long enough for all those in your life who take everything you do for granted to appreciate you a little more. Which is usually around the same time they run out of clean socks.

I have no idea what is wrong with the princess, and whatever it is, I wish her a full recovery. But considering what she’s been through lately and the huge pressure on her, I’d say she’s long past NFH.

I certainly remember my week at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington quite fondly. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite The London Clinic, where Kate is, and which I am reliably informed by friends who have stayed there, is a bit like staying at Claridge’s. But even with a mixed ward and noisy neighbors, my sense of relief from not having to be responsible for everyone and everything was as relaxing as a luxury spa vacation.

And if I felt under unbearable pressure then, God knows how Kate must feel. Not only is she always in finery, but so are her three children, and the scrutiny is intense. She has to be the perfect wife and mother while fulfilling her duties as a key member of the royal family and of course always looking like she just stepped out of the salon.

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Oh, but he’s got a lot of help, I hear you say. Of course. But he also has an awful lot on his plate. And just because someone has help doesn’t mean life is necessarily a piece of cake.

If I felt under unbearable pressure then, God knows how Kate must feel. Not only is she always in the show, but so are her three children, and the scrutiny is intense. She has to be the perfect wife and mother, fulfill her duties as a key member of the royal family and of course always look like she just stepped out of the salon.

It’s clear that the Princess is a very hands-on mother, doing her best to ensure that George, Charlotte and Louis have as normal a family life as possible under the circumstances.

It’s also clear that, like many high-functioning women, she’s something of a perfectionist. I don’t expect her to relax that much.

So if I were a princess I would need surgery separately, I would enjoy this downtime. Enjoy your NFH. Let everyone else deal with everything once in their life and just focus on getting better.

Because, trust me, all of that will still be waiting for you when you step out.

My phone died yesterday. Kaput. Just as the proverbial parrot ceased to be. Even the ministrations of several teenagers and a long-suffering IT guy couldn’t resurrect it, which means I’m currently a non-human. If someone could explain how this represents progress I would be grateful.

The case of the prayer ban is monstrous

Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher of ‘Britain’s strictest school’, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying her methods work and give pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds unprecedented opportunities. So it’s egregious that a pupil is suing the decision to introduce a prayer ban after teachers were subjected to «appalling» racial harassment. What is worse is how the student receives legal aid at the expense of the taxpayers. Not only could this money help other disadvantaged young people, but why shouldn’t this pupil be accepted by one of London’s Muslim schools?

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I’m also sure that one of the millions of Muslim girls in countries where women are banned from education would love to take her place.

Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher of ‘Britain’s strictest school’, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying her methods work and give pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds unprecedented opportunities.

Too graphic, Emma!

I’ve added Oscar favorite Poor Things starring Emma Stone to my ever-growing list of ‘movies not to watch with daughter and boyfriend’ (hers, not mine, of course). It pretty much put me off my family pack of fruit lozenges. For a film billed as a satire on the «male gaze» and the objectification of women, it contains an abundance of graphic and uncomfortable sex scenes. You have been warned!

I’ve added Oscar favorite Poor Things starring Emma Stone to my ever-growing list of «movies not to see with daughter and boyfriend» (hers, of course not mine).

● As Prince Harry found out, being a bit liberal with court orders can have unintended consequences. Namely, he had to spend £750,000 in legal costs for his unsuccessful libel bid against the newspaper. That’s a lot, even by Montecito standards. If he hadn’t pissed him off so much, maybe his father would have been willing to help. So it looks like someone will have to find a job…

REDUCING WORK IN THE NAME OF NET ZERO? THANK YOU GRETA

The Port Talbot steel mill across the bay from where I was born is to cut 2,500 jobs in the name of Net Zero.

Instead, we will be sourcing steel from China, which is approving new coal-fired power projects at the equivalent of two plants a week.

Still, look on the bright side: Greta and her friends will be delighted.

● As ministers fight the Rwandan law through the House of Lords, why not add someone convicted of people smuggling to the deportation list? This might make them think twice before risking human life in the frigid waters of the English Channel. Even Gary Lineker couldn’t object to that, surely?

As someone who always orders a «large» glass of wine (let’s be honest, anything else is just a false economy), I laughed at the Cambridge researchers’ finding that offering smaller measures could help people consume less alcohol. Yeah, right. If they’re anything like me, they’ll order a whole bottle instead.

What do you think?

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