I went to work yesterday with most of my voice gone, more from hope and a sense of duty than belief that I was well enough to do my job properly. It was my chest, not my throat, congested and tight, the tubes constricted. I felt okay, just couldn’t speak above a forced whisper. Since my job is talking all day long it was a very optimistic journey in.

I left at about 11. The effort to speak wore me down, and the fear was the more I pushed it the worse I would become. I saw a doctor on the way home. I picked out a bulk billing practice nearby home and had a very cursory and unsatisfactory examination by a young Indian doctor. She pronounced that I probably had a chest infection – though given her flimsy examination of me she might easily have pulled some other random diagnosis out of the hat. She prescribed me Amoxicillin upon my recommendation.

The rest of the day I spent quietly watching TV, reading and resting. I felt my voice improve with the antibiotics. The night before a city bartender, Giorgio, had mixed me a therapeutic cocktail of cognac mixed with honey, lemon, a cinnamon stick, cloves, and a shot of hot water, and I made one for myself to the same effect. For 5 minutes at a time the congestion seemed to clear. I believed that come today I would be right to return to work.

That’s not the case. I’m home still after a difficult night. The infection that was in my chest is in my head also now. I coughed throughout out the night, and tried to clear my airwaves. I ached, my head fuzzy, my dreams strange. At about 5am I woke feeling almost despairing of my condition. You don’t think straight that early, and particularly when you’re sick. I felt so wretched that I feared the worse. Pneumonia came to mind, and the consideration that I might be better off in hospital. I needed proper treatment I thought, and at that point was unsure that I could look after myself.

They were melodramatic thoughts, but in their way, understandable. It’s the shadow on my future health, the fear that one day I might be reduced to a condition of permanent chest infections, and everything associated with that. I’m blase about it mostly, though I’ve been warned. It’s when you’re in the grip of it, at the ungodly hour of 5am, that it finally begins to feel real.

I finally got up. I felt awful. It was like something rough and abrasive was in my chest, growing there and sending its tendrils deeper into my system. I felt it rasp against me each time I coughed. My head, my body ached. I felt miserable. I tried talking aloud, the scripted opening lines I repeat dozens of times each day, and though my voice was not as thin as the day before,it was still wrong. My voice was thick, and muffled. I knew without a shadow of doubt that I would not be going to work.

I got a glass of water and took another antibiotic, before ferreting around in the bottom of the bathroom cabinet for something else to ease my discomfort. I found a flu tablet, one of the ‘night’ tablets that help ease you into sleep. It seemed to work. I fell asleep for hours more and woke feeling slightly more human – though not nearly human enough to go to work. Pointless in any case – I can’t do my job sounding like this, even if I was perfectly well.

Hopefully I’ll be better by tomorrow. The antibiotics must begin to kick in soon. Many times I’d be happy spending a sickie at home, but this time it’s an inconvenience. It delays my meeting with the IT manager at a time I can’t afford any delay. That’s the way it goes I guess.


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