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9:23am on Sunday, 9th February, 2020:



I've been ill for most of this week, having been afflicted with two ailments simultaneously. Their combined effects had some interesting properties, which kicked in on Friday afternoon.

Ailment number 1 is (well, was, as it went yesterday) some kind of air trapped in my lower intestine. Its main feature was that it hurt when I stood or sat in certain positions. I acquired this last Sunday, and resigned myself to a week of discomfort as nature took its course. Because it involves air, it puts pressure on other organs too, which can be somewhat alarming, depending on the organ. I knew it wasn't bowel cancer, though, because the results of my NHS screening test came back saying I'm fine in that regard. Towards the end, the trapped air started to give me a fluctuating temperature; again, this has happened before, so I wasn't entirely surprised, just annoyed. Also annoyingly, I could still go to work because I knew it wasn't catching. It did have its up-side, though: I lost my appetite because of it, so have probably shed some weight as a consequence.

Ailment number 2 is (because I still have it, but won't tomorrow) a head cold. I think I caught it off a student. I knew I was going to cop for it on Wednesday, as on the drive up to Nottingham I felt a sore throat developing. It was no big deal, though, and I thought I'd shaken it off when I got to work on Friday.

I had not. I didn't notice any ill effects for my morning class or the meeting I had after it, but when I returned to my office I sat in my chair, felt rather tired, then woke up 45 minutes later. I figured at that point that I should maybe head home while I was still awake, so I did.

Upon my arrival, the symptoms of the two ailments combined to strange effect. I felt as if my body wasn't my own: there was a slightly-too-long delay between initiating a move and actually moving; when I touched something, it took slightly longer than usual to feel it. I was as a consequence much clumsier than normal. Also, my eyeballs and my back teeth hurt, and I was periodically too hot and too cold. The cold part manifested itself as the occasional, unexpected, explosive sneeze.

My younger daughter was visiting, and because she's a pharmacist ordered me to take two tablets of paracetamol to control the fever-like symptoms. I think I may have impressed her with my ability to swallow two tablets of paracetamol at once without the need for water, but I'm not sure whether they worked or not. I had one unnerving increase in tmperature, then it settled down.

Hmm, actually I am sure the paracetamol tablets worked because my lower intestine stopped hurting. However, this meant that I couldn't tell whether the separate medication she'd given me to turn the trapped air into fairy dust or something was worth taking.

Suddenly, the head cold turned into a nose cold and I went through maybe 20 paper tissues before conceding that perhaps I should take an Actifed to turn off the water. This I did, and it worked just fine.

I went to bed early and woke up next day feeling in possession of my skin again. I drove to Sainsbury's early, so as to infect as few people as possible, but actually my cold was behaving itself at that point. The intestine problem wasn't, however, and seemed to have calibrated itself to maximise the pain I would experience when seated in my driving position. The two-mile trip there was not pleasant, and wandering around Sainsbury's didn't fix it for the return journey.

After one final period of hot-and-coldness, which led to another brief episode of "whose skin is this?", the intestine problem disappeared. Left all alone, the cold then turned into a regular destroyer of my nose and top lip (which happens with most of my colds; I look as if I've scuffed my face on a brick for two or three days).

I'm a lot better today, and will be fine tomorrow if not this evening. Frustratingly, there's no reward for being ill in my own time, rather than the university's.

The whole sensation of slight delays in nerve transmissions between brain and body was weird, though. I may have had something similar before a long time ago, when I was a kid and contracted mumps, but it's not something I recall having experienced more recently. It wasn't unpleasant, just ... odd.

If this new corona virus hits me on a normal day, I'll probably survive it just fine. If it catches me when I have something else going on as well, though, I'm doomed.

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Copyright © 2020 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).