I’ve been feeling quite sorry for myself for the past week or so. I’ve had the most awful bout of flu, and it’s still sticking around. I shuffle around the flat with a cashmere scarf around my neck, a box of Kleenex Balsam tissues in my hand; a packet of Strepsils (extra strength), a tube Elisabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream (only thing for a sore nose) and a Vicks inhaler in my cardigan pocket. I’m wearing whatever feels comfortable, fleeces over jumpers over leggings, over skiing socks. I’ve had enough to empty a small lake of a lemon drink that I always prescribe myself and others in this condition: hot water with a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, honey (or maple syrup, if like me you hate honey) and slice or two of lemon. It’s supposed to get rid of phlegm (I hate that word, don’t you?) and make you better. My old GP who told me about this magical drink used to add a drop or two of brandy to make you sleepy, but I’ve felt so bad that I’ve even omitted that. Not like me at all.
I’m sick of being sick: I hate not having any energy to do anything; I don’t like being dependent on other people, even if these people are my nearest and dearest; I’m utterly fed up with the essential medication like the Strepsils, Lemsips, small glasses of soluble aspirin and cough mixtures. Not to mention the million trips to the loo – all that fluid has to come out somehow.
As I lay in bed last night, waiting for the 4 am intake of the above triple medication to dull the various aches in my body, it suddenly occurred to me that all this suffering may just be bad karma. I remembered how savagely I’d treated Husband in his hour of need: a week earlier he was suffering from this very same virus. At the time I too had a bit of a cold, nothing more than a runny nose, and thought he was just making such a fuss about his sniffles. He was so poorly I was quite worried for a second; he stayed away from work and was in bed for nearly one whole day. This is quite unusual for him. I kept up the Nurse Nightingale routine for about half a day; when he was a smidgen better I was back to my usual ‘manflu’ jokes. Anyone who phoned to talk to him I’d tell them he was ‘suffering from a deadly bug but putting a brave face on it’. I made him take brisk walks with the dog, ‘The exercise will make you sweat it all out.’ I complained about being woken up in the middle of the night with his coughing.
What a cruel woman I’ve turned into to…Karma, if you’re listening: I’m very, very sorry. Now make me better immediately!