Do you remember when you were a kid and you were ill? When you were so healthy and energetic that even with flu that drowned you in streams of thick snot, you could still curl up in the duvet and binge all seven seasons of Nip/Tuck? Or when you had a stomach virus that felt like a rattlesnake snapping at your insides, but still found an appetite for a round of your Dad’s eggy soldiers, extra runny with a dab of salt? The last week or so I have been ill, in bed, with what feels like a Komodo Dragon hatching inside my gut, using my organs as scratching posts and nearing full size, ready to explode out of my chest like a damn Xenomorph. In that time, I have had little energy or inclination to even attempt any sort of engaging activity. Able merely to lay in misery as I remembered my younger and more resistant body, in the days when being ill wasn’t so… fucking miserable.
Over the last 10 days or so, I have been utterly destitute. Laid in bed simultaneously frozen stiff and burning alive. I haven’t been able to do anything at all. The television is switched on and my ears ring as if I’m stood in the belfry at the end of Batman and the bell drops right on my head. The bedside lamp brightens and my eyes invite a searing pain through their opaque window directly into my brain. I try to read but double vision makes finding my line a real bitch. Today is the first day I have been able to get out of bed for a room that isn’t all tiles and porcelain in far too long. I still haven’t done anything at all other than feel sorry for myself. Actually, that’s not true. On the insistence of my wife that I got some “fresh air”, I did walk a full two-hundred-yards to the shop across the road and pick up an overpriced, deceivingly small, bag of Doritos. But like I said before, my vision has been off recently.
I envy my twelve-year-old self for drinking milkshakes when he had a sore throat from tonsillitis, for watching Buffy when flu had him as clammy as a heroin addict in detox, for reading Swamp Thing when a bug turned him inside out for a frozen British winter week. As an adult, you only admit to being ill when you absolutely cannot deny it any longer. The second you feel slightly better, when that forehead dries up for a spell and that nose clears just enough to breathe through in little spurts, you force yourself up, out; and back to the real world. The burdens of adulthood enough motivation to get us back fighting fit: a prize champion on the comeback trail.
Kids and old people relish being ill, they soak up the attention and free time as if they don’t know when they’ll get it again. While I have to admit, I’m not a kid anymore, I long for the day I can be a demanding old fart with a hot nurse to take my temperature and a stack of Swamp Thing to read at my bedside with Nip/Tuck sat waiting in the DVD player. Right now, I just can’t wait to get back to my bloody day job and get out of this prison I normally call home.