Thursday, 8 November 2012

New moan 'ere

I’m not brilliant at being ill, in fact I’m terrible at it despite having lots of practice as a child. When I was young I was usually laid up with tonsillitis, sinusitis or appendicitis or some such ailment.  In the end I had them removed or operated on at which point they ceased to be a problem and I went back to being healthy again. However the weeks and months of illness associated with those conditions left me with a pathological aversion to illness and the associated boredom that has never left me.

The removal of my tonsils and appendix just left the colds and flu and occasional stomach disorders for me to endure. For everyone else they are minor inconveniences, mere hurdles on the path of life. Other people seem to simply step over those hurdles before merrily skipping on with their lives like they had hardly noticed them. Not me, when I get ill I trip over those hurdles and fall flat on my face. I am just not equipped to be ill. My entire mental state is compromised by illness, I find it difficult to simply carry on in my daily duties and I definitely do not skip through daily life when I’m suffering from a malaise. I cough, splutter and wheeze through the day demanding drugs and moaning about anything I can think of that I haven’t moaned about in the previous five minutes.

I’m also not very good at being with other people that are ill. For starters, I’m always worried I’ll catch it even if the condition is not contagious; in my experience you can never be too careful. Far better that the ill person decamps to the furthest part of the house from me and I’ll deliver any requirements on a tray, which I’ll leave outside the door. I’ll admit that the chemical suit that I keep handy specifically for carrying trays in these kinds of situations is perhaps just a little overkill but it seems to work. I rarely contract anything.

Until recently…

About a month ago, whilst holidaying in France Mel was struck down with some kind of viral, cold ailment thing that rendered her unable to function for a week or so. This wouldn’t ordinarily have been a problem, she needed bed rest and I would just have to entertain myself. I’m normally an independent soul who is entirely comfortable in my own company but we were in rural France, which was suddenly enjoying biblical amounts of rain after months of drought.

I watched as many films as I am able to take in one week (which is one) and surfed the internet until I was literally bored shitless. So bored shitless that I even started goggling the phrase ‘bored shitless’ in case it returned some results that might help alleviate my boredom. I even resorted to sorting out my CD and MP3 collection which has been on my to do list for almost my whole life. This was getting ridiculous. When you start crossing things off to-do lists that you never really intended to do, you know you are in trouble. I tried some writing but could find no inspiration. I even caught myself downloading ‘World of Warcraft’ but suddenly came to my senses and punched myself in the face to snap me out of it. Surely things were not that bad…..

It was the week of my birthday and we were both in need of a break but try as she might Mel could not shake off her lurgy and so remained in bed for much of the week. In the end, we were both relieved to get back to the UK, which is a first for us but I think you will agree understandable given the circumstances.

Mel is extremely fit and healthy and shakes off illness quite quickly and though this was a shocker of an illness she was on the mend in a short period of time. We both went back to work and resumed our daily chaotic lives where I crisscross the UK, staying in soulless hotels during the week and then return home on a Friday. Normal service had resumed.

I felt relieved and somewhat self-satisfied that I had avoided any unpleasant illness and put it down to my inner resilience, masculinity and genetic superiority. Which was a huge mistake in retrospect.

Within days I developed a cold, then a chest infection. I soldiered on as all men do and are renowned for doing. Eventually when I began making a coughing sound like an asthmatic seal in a smoke filled room I went to the doctors and got some antibiotics. A week later – no improvement, in fact if anything I was worse. I returned to the doctors, apologising for having the temerity to require an appointment this year and the doctor confirmed that indeed it had got worse and prescribed some stronger antibiotics.

That weekend we returned to France for two days so we could winterise the property until we return at Christmas. Whist there we fitted a winter cover to our newly completed swimming pool in the Gite next door. We pinned the cover down with concrete slabs whilst we drilled the holes for the ropes. Unfortunately, due to my own stupidity a gust of wind blew the whole lot in and I had to don my swimming shorts and get in the freezing cold (and slightly murky) water to retrieve it all. I have never warmed up since.

The next week I went to see City in Amsterdam playing Ajax. I'm not sure what the medical advice is for a chest infection but I'm pretty sure galavanting around Amsterdam for two days is not it. I don't know if it was the drinking, the cold or the result but I came back feeling even worse. 

Last week I was away for much of the week interviewing and selecting graduates for our annual intake. As part of the selection process and for a little bit of sport we put them through a day of presentations and group activities. Think of ‘the Apprentice’ but without the pathological, borderline psychotic personalities. Replace them with bright, ambitious and enthusiastic people that make you feel very old and you are about there. Anyway, as well as the daunting prospect of having to present to 20-30 of our senior executives they also had to cope with my hacking cough interrupting them every 30 nanoseconds or so. They coped admirably but I was getting looks off people that suggested that despite my constant practice my cough was not getting any better.

So I went back again. This time the doctor looked a bit worried. Said he could hear ‘cracking and wheezing’ in his stethoscope. There was a good reason for this. It was because he was listening to my lungs, which were cracking and wheezing. He took blood and other samples and immediately sent me for chest x-rays.  He then confirmed I had pneumonia and would require some very strong antibiotics and steroids to help me breathe.  He insisted on complete bed rest, which is practically impossible from a work perspective at this time of the year and asked to see me in a weeks time.

So I have eventually returned to writing, inspired and necessitated by the dullness and tedium of my temporary existence. I'm sending those around me mad with hacking cough though they prefer that to my constant barrage of whinging and moaning. I've watched everything I want to watch, read everything I want to read and an hour ago I found myself thinking again about 'World of Warcraft' so I rubbed my face with a cheese grater to bring an abrupt halt to that. This has to stop. I need to get better. 

I hope to write on cheerier topics in weeks to come but until then you can have this load of drivel.

1 comment:


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