Saturday, 16 August 2008

Still Ill

The problem with being ill and writing about it is trying to strike the right balance between conveying the true misery of the condition without slipping in to bathos and maudlin self-pity and making light of the situation so as to come across as brave and painting it all as part of life's rich tapestry leaving people to wonder what all the fuss is about. But hey! I'm a writer. It's my job to find the words before the Paracetamol wears off and my temperature goes up to the point where the stylus melts in my hand.

Last night, after downing a cocktail of no less than 16 tablets, I had 3 carers come to put me to bed. I'm not sure why 3 came, perhaps they felt there was safety in numbers, but they fussed over me and hoisted me and then gently lay me down to sleep. Which, somewhat to my surprise, I did, a part from a few coughing fits that woke me but were so exhausting that I promptly went back to sleep. So sleep wasn't a problem. Waking up on the other hand was another matter.

During the night the gunk accumulates in the lungs and ironically the BiPap that keeps me going through the night makes the waking up a misery by having dried it into what feels to me like pieces of hot gravel. Lying there on my air mattress it's just about okay but I know what is coming and anticipating it makes taking the decision to move very hard. As I am lifted to a sitting position everything shifts in my airways and the gravel seems to tumble in to new positions, blocking some of the bronchioles. The bronchioles that the gravel has moved from don't just spring open again so in those first few moments as I'm sat up I am literally gasping for air.

I've thought about this. How can I best describe the sensation? Imagine (and I do mean imagine – don't be stupid enough to actually do this) wrapping a sheet of cling-film around your head and then, after 10 or so seconds, prick the cling-film with a pin and suck your air in through the resulting hole. Now cough, but remember you need to get enough air around the blockages to be able too. Oh, and you can't use your diaphragm. (Well I can't, so in this virtual world neither can you). If you are lucky someone will shove a pressure mask over your face and switch on a Cough Assist machine. After several minutes a number of the bits of gravel have been physically sucked out and you start to feel human enough to think about a mug of very strong coffee.

It's not all over of course but those are the worse few minutes of the day. At least until your 4 year old finds his plastic saxophone.

Got to go now, I have a small meal of medication to get through before I can go back to bed. The antibiotics should kick in tomorrow and the steroids are beginning to take affect. Normal service will be resumed.