Saturday, 10 January 2009

Holiday Hypochondria

Well hell.

I’m back to work on Monday and have done absolutely nothing my whole time off.


I intended to.

I had such plans.

I was going to organise and achieve and enjoy.

But instead… I slept.

Well I caught up with a few people and had a few nights out and yes there was Christmas and New Year’s.

But they are little islands of memory in a sea of sleep and randomness that have all blended together.

I’m sure I needed some of that sleep, I don’t get enough as a rule due to night-owlishness and bad habits but I don’t think I needed that much.

I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself.
I was going to have a crack at all the things that I always tell myself that I don’t have time for during the work week.
Or at least I told myself I was.

Henry Rollins would be heartily disapproving, if he had time in between travelling about, writing, yelling at folk, compiling music and being mental.
Warren Ellis probably wrote twelve books, harassed half the twittering world, streamed a week’s worth of unsigned music and beat to death no less than four malingering critics in the same time.
If either of them were aware of my existence and inclined to care, my squandering and indolent ways would probably offend them to the bottom of their prolific and impassioned souls.
Thankfully this is not the case as I think the shock of being on the receiving end of a lecture in Henry Rollins’ case and a foully eloquent cussing out in Warren Ellis’ case would probably short-circuit my brain and I would then have to consign myself to a hermit's lifestyle away from civilisation and the possibility of another cussing out*.

I started to wonder if maybe there might be something more than laziness and warm weather behind it.
So I did the worst thing anyone with too much time on their hands and too much imagination in their head can do.
I checked WebMD.

I plugged in one symptom that sounded about right: Fatigue.
And with that comprehensive medical history WebMD suggested that I might have Multiple Sclerosis, Coronary Artery Disease or Diabetes 2. Maybe even Fibromyalgia. I had to look that one up.

Feeling a bit panicky I thought maybe if I put in some more symptoms it would get more specific. But the only other one that I could find was: Weakness (generalised).

WebMD reconsidered for a moment. It decided I might not have Multiple Sclerosis any more but it could still be Diabetes, heart rhythm disorder or gastrointestinal bleeding. Or mononucleosis. I had to look that one up too.

Then I did the next worst thing you can do at this stage.
I looked at the other symptoms of all these conditions. And all the others further down the list.

Did I have a fever?
Were my glands swollen?
Did my joints ever ache?

I wasn’t sure!
Did I?
Were they?
Did they?

Maybe they did!
Good lord!
I was dying!
And I’d just spent my last days lounging about in bed like Jennifer Saunders in Let Them Eat Cake, confined to bed because no one had come to help her dress or cut up her breakfast for her.

It was all over.
How was I going to tell my family?

I rang my sister to tell her that I loved her.
She told me to stop calling her from inside the house because that was stupid and also she didn’t know what I was after but it was too hot and she couldn’t be buggered doing anything so I shouldn’t even ask.
I told her I didn’t want anything and just wanted to make sure she knew that I loved her.
She said she was willing to get up long enough to turn up the air conditioning if that was what I was after but that was her final offer.
I said ‘fine’ and hung up.

I called my mother to tell her that I loved her.
She told me to stop calling her at work because she was busy and that if I really loved her I should take the dog for a walk.
I told her love should be unconditional and shouldn’t require proof.
She said that was fine and that I should take the dog for an unconditionally loving walk.

I thought about calling my father but knew that he would instantly tell me that he loved me too and would also love a cup of tea seeing as I was up, which I wasn’t, and would be unsympathetic to my impending doom.
I thought about calling my brother but knew he would just call me mental and also ask if when I was gone he could have my stuff. To sell it. He wouldn’t want to keep my crap as it was made of crap.

I dragged myself out of bed and into the family room.
Our family Labrador was lounging outside the sliding door and looked up as I flopped into a chair.
She gave me her full attention and a cheerful empty-headed doggy grin.
“Jessie,” I said, “I just want you to know that I love you,”
She tilted her head and continued to give me her doggy grin.
“And when I’m gone I want you to remember that.”
Her tongue flopped out and she rolled on her back.
I gave up.
“You want to go for a walk?”
Her ears perked up and she went nuts in a restrained fashion**.
I gave up some more. It’s hard to be maudlin and melodramatic in the face of such joyous enthusiasm.

By the time we got back I was fairly certain that I didn’t have Multiple-Heart-Diabeteosis but was convinced that I wasn’t getting enough exercise and possibly couldn’t ever drink enough water to satisfy the thirst I’d built up. And that I should change into some less sweaty clothes.

But that at least was a manageable goal for the last few days of the break: get changed and drink more water.
And maybe finish a few of the books I had scattered around the bed.
None of which are about medical symptoms and all of which should at least shove some more knowledge into my head.
Which someday I might do something useful with.
Maybe not.

But at least I’ve learned two things.
I shouldn’t look at WebMD.
Walking the dog gives you an inordinately large sense of accomplishment and tends to do away with ridiculous imagined medical symptoms.

*This would probably be the desired effect as surviving a hermitic existence would take a lot of effort, especially for someone who has never grown or slaughtered any of their own food and would have trouble constructing a rudimentary shelter or even finding an appropriate item to imbue with an imaginary personality. I’d probably chose something heavy which would be difficult to carry about. And it probably wouldn’t like me.

**This is like going nuts in the usual way except she knows she isn’t supposed to so she tries to contain herself which just results in the bounding and wiggling reaching greater heights and speeds.

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