I’m not feeling very well today. My nose is running, the glands in my throat are up and I have an annoying, intermittent cough which lies dormant for most of the day, peaking at about 3am so that I don’t get a proper night’s sleep. I am, in fact, suffering from a virus. Alternatively I’ve got a rotten cold, but it was the use of the word suffering that prompted this blog.
The words we use define us. Suffering suggests something really serious. It means that whatever you are have cannot be ignored. People have to take notice of you. You become a patient, which incidentally is another interesting word as its Latin root suggests passivity and suffering.
For the past three of four days I have been so exhausted that I couldn’t do any of my usual activities. Since writing group on Wednesday, where by the end of the evening I had lost my voice, I’ve done very little. I’ve been sensible, had lots of hot drinks, kept warm, looked after myself, because I am ill.
I have the luxury of being able to do nothing. It was quite different when I went out to work, when I would have felt that I had to stagger in, regardless of how bad I felt. Not a clever thing to do, but as a working woman this is the picture I had of myself. Nothing as trivial as a cold was going to keep me away.
No longer having that impetus, I define myself differently. I am not well. I am taking things easy. I give myself permission to convalesce and to be looked after.
Tomorrow I am going to be better. The story of this particular virus is over. I’m getting bored with it. I want to be up and doing again and I am lucky that I will be able to do so.
Because I know that there are those among my friends and acquaintances, let alone the wider world, who know that they will not feel better in a few days’ time. People who have long term, chronic conditions won’t be able to say that they’ve had enough and tomorrow they will be back to normal.
My few days of exhaustion has filled me with admiration for these people who keep going however terrible they feel.
And they don’t go on about it either, because that too is telling ourselves our story and once we begin the narrative, it is just possible that we feel we have to live up to it.
I have no knowledge or insight as to whether fighting a disease helps you recover or not. I have friends who have found the concept helpful and those that haven’t. I wouldn’t presume to comment, as I believe everyone deals with what life flings at them in their own unique way.
For me, getting out of bed, having shower and putting my makeup on helps the recovery process. In my mind, sick people don’t wear eye-liner so if I’ve applied mine I must be better.
And of course there is the writing. Lost in the word of my latest protagonist, I forget to dwell on the narrative of my own ill-health.
So back to WIP. (Life Laundry has been put on hold.)