{13/11/2012}   Feeling poorly

While I am writing this from my sick bed, I am not about to launch into a woe-is-me misery log.  For the past six days I have had a very unhappy tummy, of a kind I’ve never experienced before, and, while all is adequately stable now, I keep getting stomach aches and minor associated problems.  To add to this, I have a heavy heady cold and tickley cough.  I feel like, indeed I do, have two different kinds of ailment running in parallel.  Yet somehow in myself I feel fine.  It has made me aware of a few things about being ill and how you perceive other people’s illnesses (and I am only referring to common, minor ailments not being properly ill).

When you have either vomiting and diarrhea or, horror of horrors, both together, I realise that anyone unfortunate enough to see you in this condition will see you shuffling along, with a heavy sad face and a look of utter misery.  Sympathy is instant and deserved.  Yet the patient is usually feeling so wretched that they are oblivious to sympathy and just want to have a nice, warm, cosy bed to curl up in, ideally located in a corner of the bathroom.

Everyone gets colds so there is a degree of empathy, but those of us who carry on regardless when they have a “normal” cold are somewhat unsympathetic towards those who have a sniffle and take time off work, this said by someone (me) who’s self-employed and doesn’t get paid to be off sick.  That said, if  you have a streaming nose, red-rimmed eyes, sore throat, cough … yeah, like anyone wants to work or stand anywhere near you and I think then you have a responsibility to keep your germs to yourself.  Then I find annoyance overrides sympathy.

My point is kind of that everyone passes judgement over how ill you are how much sympathy you deserve based on, possibly two key components: whether they have had bad experiences with what you are suffering from (ie you deem that person to be suffering based on your experiences) or if the poorly one has something that sounds like it could be awful.

Feeling unexpectedly ok in myself with the former ailment [incidentally, I was interrupted while writing this by my GP surgery calling to say, “We have an appointment for you at 11.40”- I suspect I am about to be prescribed drugs and told of some horrible bacteria running riot in my insides, yuck] but feeling somewhat drained by lack of sleep caused by a heavy head cold, cough and sounding like I’m about to lose my voice, I got unprecedented sympathy from the few people I saw yesterday.  I realised I had the combination of an internal ailment that everyone has had some horrible experience of (a “travel” bug and/or diarrhea, both of which you can relate to with dread) and sounding ill without there being damp tissues surrounding me (the throat/cold/cough combo).

Sometimes I hear, “X has called in sick with a headache”.  That elicits a raised eyebrow, a “Yeah, right”.  Though in fairness, if the headache were described in a certain way, I would then be heavy on the sympathy.  As for my ailments, I have the perfect sympathetic ear because the friend I went to Ethiopia with caught what appears to be the same thing and we have sought comfort in comparing and contrasting our ailments on a day by day (at times hour by hour) basis.  This is a huge help and I find comfort in knowing that someone else knows exactly how rotten all this is at the same time as me.

I never quite got to a point, but a fair conclusion would be that it is miserable feeling poorly.  As for me, I feel a bit caught between one illness that isn’t keen to be well-fed and another that is desperate for hearty stews!  It always ends up being about the food!




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