... until now...
Now, I'll admit, this is a self diagnosis, but I'll lay it all on the line for you:
For nearly a week I've been running a fever. Every joint and limb aches. I can barely walk from one side of the room to the other without feeling exhausted. I alternate between sweating and shivering uncontrollably. My body is clenching in spasms of agony as I try desperately not to cough because the hacking, tearing fire as the mucus leaves my lungs is almost more than I can bear. The pain in my ears can only be described as large and round. Like marbles that are pressing on every surface. I can't breathe through my nose, but every breath through my mouth dries my soft palate a little more and adds to the eye-watering rawness. When I can take a breath through my nose the cold of the air hitting my nasal passages fires my facial nerves so that all my upper right teeth hurt. My face throbs. When I lie in bed and allow my hand to rest on my cheek, or my forearm to lie across my brow it feels instead as though someone has placed a lead weight on my face. My pillow feels as though it's made of concrete. And then there's the nausea. And have I mentioned the soul-destroying exhaustion?
I think it might actually be flu.
And my BigBear and LittleBear both have it too. So on top of the guilt I already felt at taking my LittleBear to nursery last week, when he was suffering from this vile disease, but I hadn't quite succumbed yet, I now have the guilt of knowing that I failed to take him for a flu vaccine this year. I could have done. I had a reminder from the doctor's surgery, but it just slipped through the net of things to be done. And usually I am so vehement about the importance of vaccinations. I've been known to get into quite rabid arguments about it. I know there's no guarantee that this season's vaccine would have prevented this particular variant (especially as I suspect we acquired it on the plague-vector that is an aeroplane). But still. Next year, LittleBear is going to be first in line for a flu vaccine.
So here we are, feebly stumbling around the house, more or less surviving. Barely sleeping as we each occupy our separate rooms and each cough and shiver and sweat and whimper through the night. I daren't have anyone come and help, or look after us, or take LittleBear off our hands for a few hours, because there is no-one I hate enough to inflict this on. LittleBear seems, after a week, to be emerging from the worst of it. He no longer has a temperature, he's eating again (hooray!) and is keen to play. This is a blessing, because there is very little worse than seeing my lovely boy suffer, but also a curse, because his energy levels are rapidly outstripping the combined ability of his parents to keep up.
The slight chink of light at the end of the tunnel is that for the past two mornings I've had several hours of feeling a little better, and not feverish. By afternoon, the exhaustion overtakes me and the fever returns.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Please. Let it be so.
Meanwhile, I will leave you on an incongruous thought, shared with me at university by my lovely friend Piglet. "Hooray! Hooray! The first of May, outdoor sex begins today!"