I WAS interested to read the account by my fellow Examiner columnist Denis Kilcommons of his recent illness.
For those of you who missed yesterday’s piece by Honley’s finest, the veteran hack has been laid up with appendicitis for the past few weeks.
Like him, I have been sick this month – though unlike him, I haven’t used it as a feeble excuse to miss any columns (just kidding, Denis, get well soon).
My condition is less serious than his. While Denis had to pay a visit to the HRI, I’ve just been self-medicating with Lockets, Soothers and the occasional glug of cough syrup.
But nothing I did was improving an increasingly poor throat, and by last weekend I was reduced to spending the day in bed, looking gaunt, shivering and generally feeling sorry for myself.
By Saturday afternoon I was unable to talk in anything other than a barely audible croak which made me sound like a cross between Marlon Brando in The Godfather and Mariella Frostrup after 40 Rothmans.
But it wasn’t the physical ailments which troubled me as much as the sheer unfamiliarity of my bed-bound fate.
I tried to remember the last time I had been too sick to rise from a horizontal position. And, though I’m ready to be corrected by friends or family, I believe it was in 1984.
I was five years old and I had just had an operation at the Ulster Hospital to try to correct the squint in my left eye – a quick glance to the top of this page will show you that the procedure was only a partial success.
The operation was conducted under general anaesthetic and when I came round I remember vomiting with alarming regularity into a metal tin next to my bed for some considerable time.
After that I stayed in hospital for a night or two before going on my merry way.
And that was pretty much it for me and illness. I sailed through the rest of my school days without another sickness absence.
Of course there was the odd cough and sneeze to slow me down, but no flu or measles to stop me getting out of bed in the morning.
And, like any healthy child, I had my share of cut knees and scraped elbows, but never a broken bone to keep me cooped up inside.
I’ve taken my robust good health with me into my working life, never having had a day off sick.
Back in my teaching days I did once have to dash out of class to throw up (I think it was something I ate) but I returned to my post five minutes later, a little green around the gills, but determined to keep on educating.
But my proud attendance record nearly came to an end this week. There was a period on Saturday when I feared I would be too weak to drag myself to Examiner HQ on Monday morning.
Talking is part of a journalist’s job, so I could hardly have spent the day croaking down the phone.
Thankfully a good night’s sleep and some of Jenny’s cooking helped improve my condition dramatically and by Monday I was well enough to go to work.
Perhaps my step was not its usual springy self on the first day of the new working week. But at least I had made it in.
For a day or two I found out what life was like for the non-robust. I endured the sniffling, the shuffling, the reliance on others to do simple tasks, the tedium.
My sympathy to those who go through this experience more regularly than me. I hope it’s at least another 27 years till I’m laid up again.