Wednesday, April 24, 2002

When I woke up this morning I was greeted by a compelling urge to break out into a silence shattering succession of sneezes. Sneezes seem to come in a variety of guises and we all seem to have our own particular sneeze style chosen either by us or by nature.

I don't know whether any wag has before me attempted to categorise this bizarre physical convulsion but the following could stand as a beginners guide. For example there's the yelp: the sneeze preceded by a shocking yell; there's the stifled: a strangulated effort more miss than hiss. The choked: a head dipping snort; the grandstand a purposefully loud, unembarrassed and obnoxious affair. And finally the wet-one: a loud, self-invasive and messy travesty, particularly so if you're caught of guard. In addition there're original variations/ blends/influences/intermixtures, of any or all of the above.

My morning sneezes were part grandstand - the consequence of knowing that everyone else was up and gone, and part stifled as I remembered (mid sneeze) that the house walls are not soundproof thick and that my neighbour also works odd hours. There were also elements of the wet one, which I won't go into, except to say they weren't expected to be.

Shaking my head then shaking my leg I forgot all about my morning sneeze-fest and remembered it was time for breakfast, and it wasn't long before I put my morning cup of coffee to my lips. The taste was fine but I hadn't expected the couple of spoonfuls of grated glass that some demon had obviously put into my cup the moment my back was turned. A second slurp, then a third; then I knew. Cold symptoms, don't you just love 'em?

Although I can live with colds they're still a real pain to me. Try as I might I don't seem to suffer a living death like some. At the first sign of feeling poorly these people act out a well-rehearsed dramatic roll. The script they all own must read: demeanour to include: nasally moans, unreasonable demands of those with whom you live (I need this, I need that) and world class idleness. And an expectation of super human patience and sympathy from everyone.

But my problem, my pain if you like, is that although a cold makes me feel ill, It never makes me feel bad enough to confine myself to bed for some of the same selfish treatment. I tend to feel like shit most of the time anyway, it's part of how I feel when normal. Therefore the descent into the depths of illness for me isn't so great -- a few early warning signs like violent sneezing episodes and muddled thinking elicit more comedy than concern by others and by me.

So dilemmas start to kick in. Do I feel bad enough not to go to work. The answer is always yes I feel too bad to go to work, but that's only because I never want to go to work anyway. I know I can always drag myself in, I know that when I get to work I shall feel fine, or at least feel my normal version of shit. So the thought of pulling a sickie makes me feel morally wretched and I imagine myself pacing around the house wondering how on earth everyone is managing without me when I am plainly not that stricken. If I was laid up in bed swaddled in blankets and damp tissues, swilling lemony confections and enduring a nightmare of analgesics and anal thermometers there would simply be no debate. But I rarely make it to that stage. Rarely but not never. Tomorrow's another day - come friendly germs and fall on me, I fancy a week in bed!

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