I’m only just starting to remember what health feels like

Posted February 11, 2018 in ephemera  |  No Comments so far

The evening after my last run, a 15km circuit around lower Manhattan, I got into bed in my hotel and immediately turned ice cold. No matter how tightly I wrapped myself in the duvet, the shivering wouldn’t stop. I think my teeth were even chattering. Several hours later, having hardly slept at all, I had to accept I’d been hit with a severe illness.

That was Monday night and I’m writing this the following Sunday evening, so nearly a week has passed, and I’m only just starting to feel like I can imagine what healthiness is like.

Of course it hasn’t helped that during this period of illness – which I’m quite sure is/was the flu – I was at work for two days, then travelled on an overnight flight from New York to London, then took a Eurostar the next day from London to Amsterdam. I doubt many doctors would suggest these activities as a viable strategy for managing and recovering from the flu, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend them myself. I’d probably have got better more quickly if I’d had the chance to just stay in bed for a few days. Sometimes illness strikes at very inconvenient times.

This period of illness has involved some memorably awful states of being and I wanted to write about them before I get better and promptly forget all about it (because my ill self has no conception of what it’s like to be healthy, and my healthy self has no conception of what it’s like to be ill):

  • Nausea, dizziness and chills combining to create something akin to constant seasickness for about three or four days
  • Coughing becoming so painful that the initial explosive sound of the cough was immediately followed by an involuntary whimper
  • Having to breathe in a very slow and measured way so as to minimise the risk of coughing
  • Being so dizzy and off-balance that I became seriously concerned about escalators at work and on subway stations, even swaying gently on my feet while waiting at traffic stops
  • Buying a burrito and then being unable to face the challenge of eating the thing; resorting to picking tiny bits out of it with a spoon instead
  • Feeling most of the time like someone with a really severe hangover
  • Ambitions I’d had for doing marathon training runs in New York being abandoned wholesale
  • Eventually, this morning, waking up with a splitting headache and actually feeling positive about that, because it seemed to represent some kind of endgame.

As I write this the splitting headache is being managed with paracetamol and I’m still quite fatigued but, other than that, the illness is on its way out. I’m so relieved. And I think I’ll be getting a flu shot before next winter too.


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