What I need

I told them at work on Friday that I’m taking sick leave until the head pains are gone. I ignore these things too much from an outdated sense of responsibility and an unwillingness to appear less than mortal. They owe me, so it was an easier call on this occasion, but I had no other option, really. Either I’m in pain, or I’m feeling a bit dopey with painkillers, and it’s hard to concentration or pretend interest when all you want to do is lie down and make it all go away.

I had a bad night anyway. I won’t go into all the hypochondriac details, except to say the pain has hit a peak – and is a bit different, too. I was awake at 2am taking Neurofen and trying to go back to sleep. I have my own theories on what’s going on, but I’ll wait for the docs report.

I took the opportunity this morning to go out and get the blood tests the Endo prescribed for me – I’m due to see her again next week. I went to Brighton for it. As I approached the pathologist, an elderly woman with her husband was coming the other way. The man pushed a trolley on which a tank of something – oxygen perhaps – connected via looping pipes to a facemask. Just the sight of something like that is an instant downer. I pity the poor man and hope desperately I never experience the same fate. As I have before, I hoped my time stops before anything like that is necessary.

In the pathologist’s office, the only other patient waiting was a chatty older woman. She, too, was wearing something permanently affixed, carrying it in a pouch sound around her neck. After she went in, a man entered, gasping for breath. His breath never settled while I was there. It was like he just ran a marathon.

Nothing is guaranteed to depress me more than such hardcore evidence of illness and misery. I refute it for myself, and unconsciously every time I visit such a place, I make sure that I seem healthy and normal, no matter how I feel. That’s why you’ll always see me cracking one-liners, as I did once more today, as if to suggest my presence there was nothing more than an aberration.

In all honesty, I’m weary of the ailments that have bedevilled me over the last 12 months, but then I see really sick people and know things could be a lot worse. I don’t feel well, but I get around fine and retain a sense of self and project an image of casual capability. I don’t inspire one iota of pity, nor do I ever want it.

Things have been better certainly – there’s more cracked up in this world that I’m currently willing to admit here – but I reckon there’ll ultimately be a reasonable and low-key explanation for my current travails.

In the meantime, it’s perhaps no bad thing that I’m taking some time away from work. So far, there’s been a lot of sleep, but if I can get my head clear too, then the benefits go beyond that. That’s what I need.

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