HEAD back against my chair, book paused and sliding down my lap, I squinted at the sun and laughed out loud in contentment. It had hit me with a deep joy that for the first time in, frankly, a good few years I was enjoying the reason I came here to France in the first place.

The heat wrapped itself around me, but kindly, not suffocating; in the backdrop, bees gathered nectar from the plants I’d sown for them to do so; the house I’d cursed, or which had cursed me, had a kindly face, the creeper soothing/smoothing its rough edges.

It was a day like so many in those glorious first years of discovery when rising and opening shutters was to gasp at both the beauty and timelessness of my surroundings and the wonderful finger strokes of heat on my face.

But it was more, much more than that. I was breathing. Normally – no hurtful intakes, no greedy slurps as if seeking air through a straw deep inside a damaged lung. No need to crouch in a semi-crawl to the interior and an emergency inhaler.

Mildly, happily shocked that the straight jacket around my chest had been unlocked, I stood. Nothing gripped me and forced me to stop.

I walked, slowly in case this was a bodily trick, along the thick stones of the drive, around the house, testing a slight grass incline and down, and finally moving with a long-lost purpose towards the door.

Sure, there was the odd twinge from the almost healed broken knee, but I expected nothing less and that, in many ways, has been far easier to deal with.

After all, when something is broken, it can be fixed. When lungs are being eaten away, bit by bit, they can’t.

And that’s when every morning you inhale something to quickly open up all the bits to the lungs and then, half an hour later, inhale the steroids to keep the inflammation in its place.

The rest of the time you try to breathe from the diaphragm, walk 30 minutes a day, drink lots of water, eat well and limit use of the rescue inhaler. If you’re in a holding pattern that is.

With COPD, as I’ve said too many times here, you won’t be cured but you may hold the inevitable off…. for a little time, anyway.

But during the past year I’d felt subtle increments of oxygen loss; further fatigue, almost constant banding of the chest and as temperatures soared, little respite at all.

The shock of the fall seemed to kick it another mile forward on its grim march.

Then out of the blue I got a message from a reader similarly afflicted. He told how 18 months ago, some days he could barely walk; had given up all work in the garden as he couldn’t lift or dig and was struggling to simply keep going.

Today he walks a brisk four miles a day, swims and rarely has a cold never mind the infections that put us back in hospital.

He told me the ‘secret’ and where to get it but warned that what worked for him, might not for me, but surely it was worth a try.

And so, ten days ago, I began to put two drops of the oil on or under my tongue. It has a touch of coconut in it to make it palatable but to me it tasted more like the inside of a long unwashed metal ashtray. Fitting I suppose.

By the third day I could rise, move from bedroom to kitchen in an almost fluid movement. By the sixth, I realised I hadn’t used my rescue inhaler once since the first drop was absorbed, even though in the months behind I had used it twice a day.

Now, of course, I’d read often of the miraculous claims made for this oil but they were evenly balanced by others from doctors and experts to say there was no quantifiable evidence.

And on the COPD forums, when I searched there were far fewer claims of any sort.

Basically, it controls inflammation and in some cases pain but it’s important to buy certified, pure stock and in the right strength, to avoid falling foul of the law.

Yes, I’m taking cannabis oil or CBD, the hemp without – sadly – the properties that make you high, and it, illegal.

Of course, it is possible that the oil has nothing at all to do with this sudden turnaround in my breathing. It could be all in a mind desperate to escape the trap of daily low-level suffocation.

But tuned as I now am to this body of mine, I do not believe that. The only change in both head and lungs is the oil.

And maybe I’m writing too soon about this and will be plunged back to the pit I was in. God, I pray not but if that is to be then I must enjoy every moment of these days, weeks of respite.

So, there you have it. Peace, man, peace.