October 13, 2009


Being sick is crap.

Yes, I know this is bad language – sorry mom – but I’m not feeling so good and it’s true! Here I am, in bed, feeling awful and nothing to show for it apart from a rising temperature and a microscopic Kamakazi corrupting the system. I have gone through much worse and not felt half as bad.

Had I a gaping hole from a bullet I could say: OK, I feel bad because half my colon is hanging out. Or if my leg was broken I could say: ouch, have to watch my step when I tango this weekend…

Now, now, before you get upset about how insensitive I am, know this: I have severed a nerve in my left foot that makes most of it about as insensitive as you think I am right now. I’ve been shot and almost lost an eye, came within inches of losing a leg, fractured a wrist and had an ectopic dingleberry moved, subluxated a shoulder, tore some ligaments, spent about 6 months of my short and eventful life on crutches, and had a head swollen like a soccer ball from removing some intelligent teeth.

I’ve been there. And during these challenging, often heart breaking times, my very impressionable mind would wonder: why? Why me? And now I know – so I can write this letter and not be sued for being insensitive. Karma is cool!

But I’m flat on my back, with a head that feels as though it would fit better on a rock, a nose dripping constantly like a kitchen tap, and eyes watering enough to dent the water crises in the Karoo. Every time I sneeze my body reminds me that I tried to tackle the entire Blue Bulls rugby team – or it feels like it anyway – and listening makes me tired. I phoned the office to let them know I wasn’t coming in to work, but somehow I don’t think the message got through. Our receptionist said something like: “we’re not buying anything from “Feeding Sink” and please don’t call me Pedal” (her name’s Beryl, but you try saying that with a blocked nose and a migraine).

And you look stupid – red eyes, red nose, fluffy hair and pale, pasty cheeks, flappy ears… although, I have to admit judogirl didn’t seem to notice my affliction... strange that. Everything feels odd and doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Waking up I felt that annoying and constant tickle in the nose, the drip in the throat, the swollen eyes, the annoying gimp playing bongo-drums on my brain and the pain in the joints – nothing strange there then (hey, I’m over thirty) – but when my tongue tickled my toes and my lungs wheezed like a punctured accordion from walking halfway to the loo, I knew something was wrong. By the time I made it back to the bed, my morning wee abandoned in the name of self preservation, I was exhausted. Ten meters shouldn’t do that to a man.

So there I lay feeling miserable, nauseous and sorry for myself, drooling gently on the pillow, minding my own business. And I was doing quite well I thought – keeping myself in a slightly comatose state trying to sidestep the inevitable onslaught of symptoms that is, the Flu. Until the nose broke rank and started an annoying and unwanted drip, that is – just because it felt left out. And oh, don’t think there’s anything you can do about it – it’ll drip away at its own pace, with its own agenda, with total disregard for its future coexistence with the rest of the body. It drips and you can’t do anything about it – it knows it.

Don’t fight it. Don’t sniffle, don’t sniff – just let it trickle. Put a towel on your pillow and hope to heck you don’t roll over in your sleep…

Blow? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Seems like the most appropriate next step. I thought so too. But just like me, you haven’t thought this through. If this gets too graphic, it’s your fault. Lemme explain “The Blow”:

Most people blow. It goes something like: pffft-pffft, wiggle-wiggle, snif – done. It’s very civilized and these people use Kleenex.

I use Carlton kitchen towels – preferably the industrial strength, super absorbent ones with “lockaway gel” (patent pending). The ones that can suck a dam dry. Because when I blow, dogs run! It’s a PFFRRRROOAAARRTTT, PORP, porp… PPPFFFFRRRTTTTT – much like an elephant stampede. I’m not proud of it, but hey, it’s always been like that and it clears the sinuses… and a room.

To put it all in perspective: judogirl unwittingly bought the household variety the other day – it had pretty pictures on. So when I opened my eyes after the first trumpeted evacuation of pollen season, I stood there with the disintegrated remnants of a tattered towel, a light dusting of Carlton snowflakes drifting around the room and the very unfortunate evidence indicating that yes indeed, the sinuses were now clear...

OK, now that you have the picture, we can continue. We’re back at the nose and its annoying trickle. I felt it – it registered about halfway down its path. The body shouted: TISSUES! (just because most people don’t respond to a shout of “industrial strength Carlton!”). However, nobody can hear the body unless the mouth, lungs and vocal chords cooperate in a coordinated fashion. And even if they did, nobody would hear them, because nobody’s here – they’re at work, where I’m supposed to be, with Pedal and her colleagues!

While trudging blindly through the house, trying to find the paper towels by memory (looking through these eyes would’ve made them water even more), the trickle turned to a drip which had the beginnings of a torrent. I found the towels in the nick of time, quickly wrapped a handful over the nose and “Thoomp!”

That’s what it sounds like when you try to blow a nose and it backfires – Thoomp. Well, that’s what you hear in your head. What comes after that is something totally different. You see, to blow a nose you first need to take in two lungs-full of air, lock off all possible routes of escape, compress the air with the luckless diaphragm (who at this stage feels as though it’s been trampelled by said elephant), quickly open the nasal passages to forcefully evict the slimy lodgers into the waiting kitchen towel, with lockaway gel (patent pending).

However, when the flu has decided that no air shall pass this way, six litres of compressed air is deflected through the sinuses, hits the back of your skull, making your teeth rattle and your knees buckle as it tries to find the shortest route of escape, which is not always through the throat and mouth I might add. If you’re thinking ears – bless you, but no. If the nose is shut off, good chance the ears are too... Let’s just say the dog gave me the most disgusted look I have ever seen on a canine. So as per usual, a little bit of advice: a blow that backfires could have some embarrassing consequence – choose your company carefully before trying that one again.

Sneezing however follows different rules altogether. It seems that cousin Influenza and sister Sneeze are somehow related… Immediately after the backfire I felt, with dread, a sneeze come on. The dog must’ve noticed this too because he started flinching. However, the sneeze twins (Aaah and Tishoo) were allowed to pass straight through – no questions asked. You should see my pc screen… or maybe not. I feel much better though, thanks.

What irks me most about all of this is that we can put a man on the moon with big black helmet and a laser gun (or was that Darth Vader?) and we heat our muffins in an overdeveloped radio with a funky bell, but we can’t rid the world of this microscopic little sonovablighter – that astounds me.

The wife’s been brilliant though: she’s come back early from work and I have already had two slices of toast, water and meds. She’s bought me a chocolate and made me some hot soup. She’s fluffed my pillows, rubbed my back and done all my chores. I suppose it’s because she knows that man gets hit harder by this thing than woman. She was feeling a bit fluish the other day, running a slight temperature of about 41’C, coughing up phlegm and hugging a warm water bottle. However, she coped easily. While I was out golfing she dragged herself out of bed, bathed the wee man, fed him, put him to bed, cooked my dinner… no probs.

Eish, it’s tough being a man.

1 comment:

  1. As always very amusing, Sir! Sorry to hear that you are tied-up in an inter-galactic battle with Mr Influenza. May you get better soon. Mark