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A pain in the neck

Posted Oct 01 2010 12:00am

So this morning I was in Costa Coffee working on my new book -- * quick aside,* the other day I was in the Portico with Emily and Nancy, writing whilst partaking of coffee and biscuits from a silver tray; an actor I'd met at university was lunching there too... and other creative types were flicking through big newspapers -- a far cry from Costa. In Costa a great big gang of mums and dads were squashing toddlers behind tables and supping coffee and chatting very loudly: talk about the chattering classes. These were the SHOUTY classes all gathered in one place for a bloody deafening ding-dong.

Now, I'm not against children in public places - because I have one - but cramming loads of kids into a coffee shop for hours on end on a rainy day seems a little bit cruel to me. The little darlings were really, really bored. Wouldn't it be nicer for everyone to go swimming together? Or to a ball pool? Or for a muddy walk? Kids were crying, the windows were steaming up, parents were going pink...

That wasn't where I was heading with this post.... I was sitting there tapping away, singing along in my head to Frère Jacques with the lyrics, soggy semolina, soggy semolina, I feel sick, I feel sick, toilet quick....when I thought, "I've had enough of this feeling crap business, I'm going to the doctors..." I don't have a doctor... I haven't registered... so I drove to the hospital to go to 'a walk in clinic', because I was feeling pretty crappy and thought I might collapse, or vanish, or something equally dramatic.

After a 30 minute wait flicking through drug awareness leaflets, and thinking about becoming a drug addict or/and an alcoholic, I was called in...

'Can you tell me what's wrong?' asked the nurse.
'I feel really really ill. And I have done for ages.'

This is true, my sore throat often makes an appearance, and then knocks me flat.

'My throat is sore, and my armpits ache, and I feel sick, and I have a headache.... and when I drink alcohol I throw up. I can't handle my alcohol.'

I think the last symptom was inspired by the alcohol awareness leaflet I was reading. I also felt the need to confess.

'Did you have a drink last night?' she asked.
'Yes.'

I wanted to add, but only half a can of Stella! I wasn't quite sure what she'd think of me drinking Stella.

'Have you lost weight?'
'I've put on weight.'
'How are your periods?'
'Used to be bad. Alright now.'
'Do you think you might be pregnant?'
'I know I'm not,' I laughed.
'Have you got lumps in your breasts...'
'They are quite lumpy anyway, it'd be hard to tell.'
'Do you mind if I feel for them?'
'Not at all, go ahead.'

The only person who has felt my breasts for a while is me, so this was a truly novel experience. Quite medical. If my breasts were puddings, they'd be peach jellies with apple chunks thrown in...


Small thought: why are periods, pregnancies and breasts always top agendas in everything? Do men have to show their testicles, ejaculate, and then talk about it when they have a sore throat? I genuinely would like to know.

'Yes, you're right, they are very lumpy. But nothing I think to worry about, just tissue.'

Another small thought: have I put on weight because my breasts have got lumpier? Perhaps it is the breast lumps that weigh a lot, and not the fat on my back?

Then the nurse took my temperature: normal... even though I felt feverish.

'Have you had a drink?'
'Yes. Five.'
'You've had a drink In the last ten minutes?'
'Yes. Five.'
'In the last ten minutes?'
'Yes I've had five glasses of water in the last ten minutes.'

I don't think she believed me.

Then she took my blood pressure... 'very good'.... oxygen... also 'very good'.... heart rate....'a very healthy heart rate.' Despite the fact I felt like I was on my last legs.

'I think,' she said. 'This is simply a virus that will pass. It will probably last 7-10 days, rest, drink a lot of water, take paracetamol every four hours, find a doctor --- do you know how to do that ---- [yes] and register .Then you should have blood tests to see if your periods have affected your haema-whatcha-ma-globe-bins and that's what's causing the sore throat.'

'OK,' I said 'thanks. But it's getting on my nerves not feeling well.'
She pulled a sympathy face and leaned back onto the cubicle wall, then studied me like I was a bit odd. 'I know,' she said. 'Maybe your periods affected your immune system.'

I stomped back to the car thinking, POPPYCOCK, like I can actually rest for 10 days. I need to do the shopping, cook dinner, find work - as in get a job of some sort -, and get Jack's rugby kit ready for 7.45am tomorrow for an away game in Liverpool.
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