I hadn’t even recovered from last week’s cold when I went down with something far nastier. I went to bed fine on Sunday night, ready to tackle another working week. But when my alarm went off the following morning and I attempted to leap out of bed with my usual joyous spring (or something like that), all I managed was a weak twitch of my foot and a groan. And that’s pretty much how I stayed for the next 48 hours. Some kind of gastric flu or similar bug, I think.
The human body is an amazing thing, not least in how it deals with illness. Having identified the problem as being moderately severe and dispatched several million leukocytes to the relevant spots to deal with it – I always have a mental image of an army of uniformed white blood cells marching confidently forward into battle – it simply battened down the hatches and switched me off for as long as required. I must have slept for 40 of the first 48 hours of my illness – awakening only for adrenalin-filled dashes to the bathroom – with absolutely zero appetite for appetite to persuade me to keep my stomach clear. Only once it was deemed safe to step down from defcon 1, on Wednesday morning, was I able to stay awake for more than an hour at a time and start fuelling up again. (And, boy, does that first mouthful of post-illness food slithering into your digestive system feel good!) By Thursday, I was eating normally again and able to get through the whole day, albeit with limited energy, and today (Friday), I’m getting close to normality.
It’s a pretty cool thing, isn’t it? Your body knows you’re ill even before you’re conscious of it, and in many cases knows exactly what to do without calling for medical advice. And all you have to do is put your feet up and put up with feeling a bit crap for a while.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been off work for more than a day or two like this – a really bad bout of flu about 12 years ago, I think – so I’d forgotten the upsides (such as they are) of being bed-ridden. For a start, there’s none of the guilt or second-guessing I have when I take a day off with a heavy cold or something like that: you can barely make it to and from the kitchen, so driving to work is clearly out of the question. You get proper sympathy from your nearest and dearest, rather than being told to just get over it. And then, best of all, you get to snuggle under the duvet and watch rubbish on TV because you’re not capable of doing anything more than that.
Which, in my case, meant a 100% guilt-free daily diet of Top Gear repeats on Dave (the convalescent home for sick blokes), repeats of old 80s classics (ITV3, Bravo, Virgin 1 and DMAX, among others, are good places to start) and a dash of Deal Or No Deal for good measure.
Oh, and wall-to-wall coverage of John Sergeant’s decision to quit Strictly Come Dancing. But you can’t have everything.
Anyhow, other than still feeling a bit lethargic (nothing new there), I’m over the nasty stuff now. The only problem is my cold’s still here. And that’s not really very much to shout about, is it?