Saturday 16 February 2019

Life Documenting: Dispatches from the Land of the Flu (and Haunted Urethra).

Hey you.

Last month there was a lot of social media chat about how long January felt. How it was dragging on. How people couldn’t wait for it to end. Couldn’t wait for slight, slim, and brief as a rainbow February to sneak through a crack in the year and come to the rescue.

Yeah. Well. Not I.

January treated me pretty well thankyouverymuch. What with it being the month I chose a marvellously romantic Word of the Year (‘Romance’, obvs), found the boots of my dreams, published two blog posts (a minor miracle!) and had a birthday of my very own. 

Honestly, for me, January could have lasted a little longer. But February? February was a different matter.

February drifted in on the breeze with all the charm and subtlety of an arson attack on a manure heap, then continued to stink up the year from there on in.

First we had a sudden snowfall, then, under the cover of the aforementioned snow James drove over something that burst his car tyre. Hours later, he began burning up … and that’s when things got even better when flu bullied its way into our lives. 36 hours later it was my turn to take a kicking, but not before the cystitis I’d chased away at the end of January crept back in to haunt my urethra. (And who wants a haunted urethra? Clue: nobody. No. Body.)

And so … what follows is kind of a Captain’s Log reporting back from The Land of the Flu (and Haunted Urethra). My collection of notes made while everyone else was falling face first in love with a brand new month, yet James and I were laid out, knocked back, and smacked down by the flu. As James’s virus emerged a day ahead of mine I had the joy of watching what was happening to him, knowing that in a matter of hours it would all be mine. So really, I’m just passing on the ‘forewarned is forearmed’ favour to you.

If nothing else, you might want to read it as a cautionary tale about wishing away a perfectly good January in exchange for a February created from a Lucky Dip of Evil.

Happy reading!

Dispatches from the Land of the Flu (and Haunted Urethra).

Day 1.

Symptoms may include:
  • A headache
  • A burning, dry, heat that starts on the face/head then moves to the whole body.
  • Followed by a damp, slick, slippery, sweaty heat.
  • And then freezing cold – 4 blankets deep and still shivering – chills.
  • Extreme aches and pains wracking the body, especially across the back, hips, and legs.
  • Accompanied by extreme swearing every time you need to move.

Plus ...
  • Repeated pleas of : 'Please make it stop make it stop' and 'Help me' to anyone who’ll listen. (Spolier: there won’t be anyone listening. No one wants to be within a five-mile radius of you, you germ ridden sack of aching bones and sweaty cleavage.)
  • A dry cough.

Additional side-effects:
  • Unable to sleep for the pains, you might be in need of a distraction so very, very, badly that you get up, slump on the sofa, and find yourself watching the Superbowl. You. Watching the Superbowl. A ‘sportsball’ game thing that you wouldn’t understand even if your brain wasn’t addled. 
  • There will also be secondary disappointment when you realise that none of the players appear to be as sexy as they are made out to be in sports-themed romance novels. (Life’s just one kick in the crotch after another right now.)

Speaking of which …

Day 2.

Symptoms may include:
  • A dry cough that turns into a productive cough (but hey, at least something round here will have achieved something this week.)

But if, like me, you also have cystitis then do take extra precaution with that cough. No one who feels as ill as this flu make you feel, needs to add 'weed a little bit on the bedroom carpet. And, maybe, kinda, also the landing carpet.' to their litany of indignities. Ask me how I know

Side effects: You will lose your appetite and instead keep yourself alive by on subsisting on mainly beige food (bread, biscuits, bread, toast, cream of anything soup, bread.)

Side-effects of the side-effects: the lack of decent food may result in phantom food fantasies floating around your brain, even though you wouldn’t feel like eating them if someone put it in front of you.). These strange and sudden cravings may be for things like a toasted bacon sandwich, cheese on toast, a plum ( a plum? Really? Where the hell did that craving come from?) or a cheese and tomato sandwich. (Apparently, I had mainly cheese based fantasies.)

Day 3. 
 Plot twist!! Today’s symptoms may include … 
  • a spot of cheeky diarrhoea. (Pardon the pun/ puns). 
  • But yeah … the need for speedy toilet visits is just what your aching limbs and poor digestive system have been crying out for.

One good thing: by now you’ll experience fewer peaks and troughs in temperature, however, you’ll still cold by the time your slow old legs make it to the bathroom. If you make it to the bathroom ...

See also: today might be the day you end up visiting the doctor for antibiotics for cystitis. Which may or may not include the awkward exchange with the receptionist which begins “Is that enough” … in reference to the meagre water sample you’ve managed to produce to hand over the counter to her. FML.

You may supplement your bread-based diet with the grapes you bought while wandering around Asda like zombies while you wait for your prescription.

New exciting symptoms:
  • Pain above/behind the eyes. This is so annoying that you’d roll your eyes at the injustice of yet another thing to worry about. If you could roll your eyes.
  • Sneezing. Which can be dangerous.  (See also ‘coughing with cystitis’.)
  • Today may also be the day you receive vaguely threatening texts from a parent declaring their intention to storm the Bastille (ie. come round to check you’re still alive). And  I quote - “I will have to come and check on you both to make sure you’re on the mend. I’m a mother, that’s my job.”
New ways of thinking: Frequent pondering if we can hire someone to come and clean the house for us.

Day 4.

Symptoms may include:
  • You may find yourself feeling a little better today. But, look, don’t get too excited. ‘Better’ is a relative term. Because, feeling ' a little better' while experiencing this hell still equates to a regular fu*king nightmare.
Second plot twist!! 
  • You might manage to go downstairs, report to work that you're still off sick, open the curtains, then haul yourself up the stairs gripping the banister like a mountaineer. By the time you reach the top you may realise that you're sweating and cramping and that ‘something’ is going to happen.
  • So you edge into the bathroom (Because there's no chance of any kind of 'dashing' happening any time soon) and - to cover all the bases - you sit down on the loo with your head over the sink.
  • It is now that you will then wake your partner from their flu-ridden slumbers with the sound of loud dry heaving echoing off ceramic. Good Morning!!
However, you don’t actually throw up, and all is not lost today, as it’s also the day you decide to do something drastic. Like ...
  • get up. Manage a shower and wash your hair. Then sit downstairs. Upright. Almost. Ish.

Today you may even eat a sandwich complete with greenery. Do try not to get drunk on the vitamins

At 7pm – because this week hasn’t yet been awful enough - you might remember a deadline you have. For today. And spend the next 2 hours writing and submitting it.

Day 5.

Symptoms may include:

Conversations which run like: 
  • “When do you think we'll start doing normal things again?”
  • “Like what?”
  • “Oh, like, cooking a meal. Going outside. Or when might I stop walking like a baby dinosaur?”
  • “Never”.
  • "Oh, thanks."
Today may also be the day your parents/loved ones may invoke the power of The Key.
  • Usually, under normal circumstances, our house - like Mordor - isn't somewhere they ever just walk into. 
  • But today we were instructed that if we weren’t well enough to get up and answer the door, they were going to use The Emergency Key to drop off the grocery shopping they’d got for us.
  • They didn't need to, but ... 
Alternative therapies:
  • Day 5 is the day you should self-medicate by watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. 
  • It was the 3rd time I’d seen it and …you can  move over Paracetamol, because watching Peter Kavinsky fall for Lara Jean is a far more potent healing power.
Day 6.
Today you will learn that “I’m coming round to change your sheets” is a statement and not a question.

My mother did just that - came to our house, helped change our sweat soaked, Olbas Oil scented sheets … then stayed to do our laundry, clean the kitchen, and make lunch. And, wow, it was the biggest treat.

She also managed to slip in the phrase: “You could have died”. Because what visit from a mother is complete without a reference to death?

Day 7.

Symptoms may include:
  • Getting your money’s worth from your Netflix subscription for the first time in months because you can’t even face reading.
Yeah, just to recap … you might find yourself 
  1. unable to read, 
  2. watching sport on TV  
  3. and accidentally pissing on the carpet but … what’s this? The universe has one more poor taste joke to play on you???
On Day 7 I had my first cup of tea in a week. And ... I didn't like it. *gets down on knees and shakes fist at thunderous sky begging ‘Why cruel world? Why?’*

Day 8.

Symptoms may include:
  • A delivery of Sunday Lunch from people who care about your nutrition. And you may even manage to eat it! You actually sit down and consume real actual food. Warm stuff.Go you!
  • Which is all a world away from Day 1 when I asked for “A Ryvita served on a paper thing” by which you meant ‘a sheet of kitchen roll’ … because even plates felt like too much fuss.

Symptoms may also include: 
  • Some light disapproval from the people who bothered to make you in the first place who may not approve of your decision of what to do with their darling creation. It might be best if you don’t tell them you plan to return to work the next day … because they may well prefer it if you promise to stay off. Maybe forever.

look ... I wouldn’t be telling the full story if I acted like Day 9 dawns and you become a new person, full of life, energy, cured by a platefull of homemade mince and dumplings and Peter Kavinsky’s beautifully non-toxic masculinity but … alas …

  • As I write ... another week has passed by and I’m still feeling the effects of the flu (although, thankfully the antibiotics worked and my waterworks have been fully exorcised!)
  • I’m still coughing, still sleepy, and – while I am drinking tea again - I still haven’t quite got the hang of 3 decent meals a day yet.
And, quite frankly, if this goes on for much longer I’m definitely going to need a tonic. 

How does a 4th viewing of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sound to you?

  • Have you too have experienced this awful February flu?
  • Have you too accidentally watched sport while in a weakened state?
  • Maybe you too have been haunted by an evil combination of minor illnesses? 
Feel free to share any and all symptoms and cures (including restorative  Netflix recommendations) in the comments (here or on Instagram).



  1. so you had proper flu then. Not just a 'Non specific viral infection' I say that because my dr told me in 1988 that flu can last 3 months or more while a virus is just 24 or 48 hours and you start to recover. I decided way back in 1988 that flu was something I would never ever have again. because it makes me hallucinate and I see dead people. One day I'll write about it

  2. Well I'm glad I read this from behind the safety of a surgical face mask because I don't think any of us want what you've had! You poor things, I really hope you're starting to feel quite a bit better now, although proper flu can go on for weeks. Someone once said to me that the way to know if you've got a bad cold or the flu is to imagine that someone has told you there's a £50 note floating on the breeze in your back garden. If you've got the energy to get up and retrieve it, you've only got a cold!
    Netflix recommendations? I'm just watching The Sinner and season two has be enthralled!

  3. Oh, golly, now there's an anatomy of influenza laid bare - should be prescribed reading for all young (and never-had-flu) junior doctors! I am late to this but delighted you have survived, with your sense of (dark) humour intact, and hoping for an uplifting and more joyful March for you both. Hugs xx.

  4. You poor things. I've had this in the past and it's just as awful as you describe it. Hope you're totally mended and able to enjoy the spring!

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