COLUMN | The Fainting Couch23rd February 2014
This week has seen me languishing on my sofa.
’ve always been a sickly person from childhood onwards with migraines, infections, joint pains and a general lack of robustness. This has carried on into adulthood along with an unhealthy dose of health anxiety and a bag full of pills for every eventuality. I I can swallow a whole handful of pills in one (is this the meaning of deep throat?). You’d think I’d be better at it by now but I’m absolutely rubbish at being ill.
I’ve had a rip-roaring kidney infection with associated back pain, nausea, joint aches and high fevers. Nipping to the loo every five minutes is no fun either especially when it entails what I call Cockburn (it’s pronounced Co-burn, so they tell me). Before you start thinking the worst, it’s not an STD, just some hideous bacteria that has sneaked its way in and knocked me off my perch, probably exacerbated by being tired and stressed. Not that I’d be ashamed of an STD. It happens to the best of us.
I have fond memories of childhood illness: watching ‘Sons and Daughters’, Tomato Soup, Lucozade in crinkly cellophane wrappers and boiled eggs whilst lolling on the sofa with a favourite book. I except these are just skewed memories. Nostalgia often casts a rosy glow on things that weren’t like we remember them at all. We can look back on a tedious holiday full of atmosphere and recrimination and remember it as a jolly time. Festive gatherings are often edited with family rows and disappointments on the cutting room floor. Being ill is rubbish. It’s boring and dull. Just how much ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ can you watch before going out of your mind? When I’m at work, I crave a week off but never in my fantasy does that week off involve frequent G.P. trips and lying in a pool of sweat and shivering.
I have a romanticised ideal of illness that stems from reading too many Victorian novels where the heroine languishes on her fainting couch, a small dog on her lap and a bottle of Laudanum to sip. In reality those couches were stuffed with horse hair and terribly uncomfortable, I’m sure, and no one really wants the Laudanum as it’s just a historic term for Heroin and that’s a route I’m not planning to go down.
It was a bad prognostic sign when I had to walk out of a play, as I was feeling so sick and shivering with fever. I never leave a good play and consider it bad manners to walk out. As bad as it’s been for me to feel so rough, my poor partner (who works from home) has suffered more. As Baby Jane to my hollering Blanche he’s had to fetch and carry, listen to my pitiful whine and exhibit a huge amount of patience.
Luckily for him, I’ve been sleeping about 18 hours a day so he’s had some respite. I may have dreamt that moment where he hovered clutching a pillow menacingly over my face. Maybe I didn’t, though and I wouldn’t blame him.
I can’t imagine being seriously ill or having some chronic condition as so many people do. I’m not cut out for it. The people who suffer like this have my empathy.
I try to look for a positive in most things. I can only find two: I’ve spent less money and lost half a stone in weight. Thankfully, I’m starting to feel better and my diseased urinary tract is settling down, thanks to a course of strong antibiotics. I’m actually looking forward to going back to work and having some normality. Stay well, people.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.