Well, its been ages since I wrote anything, but ‘luckily’, this afternoon I got food poisoning, so I’m holed up in bed, with a massive headache, the curtains closed, too weak and sick to get up or eat anything. I’m currently trying to get through a glass of water, but my stomach is not happy about it.
I’ve spent the afternoon in bed with the computer, watched Shrek 4 for the first time (which was much better than I expected), slept, and ran to the bathroom. The only benefit is that food poisoning is, of course, *the* quickest way to lose a few pounds. But its hard to focus on that upside when you’re too nauseous to sit up (or look at yourself in the mirror).
Being sick is usually an opportunity for me to be totally self-indulgent and whinge-y, call my Dad on the phone asking for free medical advice (when really just wanting sympathy and attention), have a boyfriend and/or friends fetch various things for me, whilst I wrap up in the bed clothes and have a little cry about how awful it is to be sick. Being overseas changes all that. Being sick isn’t nearly so fun when you don’t have people to feel sorry for you. I could, of course, let out my woes in a Facebook status update or tweet about them (oh, yes, I have Twitter now too), but I feel like the update and resultant good wishes would seem, respectively, self-absorbed and cringe-worthy when restored to full health in a day or two. So, instead, I’m blogging about the experience, which at least allows me to be self-deprecating and make all sorts of broad sweeping statements, grand parallels and sophisticated comparisons as justification for my self-absorption.
So. Being sick this time around is a bit of a different experience. I’ve been sick overseas before. That’s not the difference. When I was 13, I went on a homestay to Japan and got massively unwell. There were many theories put forward for why I was so unwell – there was a bug going round, I got food poisoning, I was a weak Western girl who couldn’t handle the unbelievably long days of the average Japanese schoolchild. Whatever the reason, I work up in the middle of the night, feverish, panic-ed, only half conscious and releasing liquids in a manner reminiscent of ‘The Exorcist’ or Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’.
I was rushed, whimpering and crying and mumbling apologies, around the house by my poor Japanese host family, my head bathed with cool towels, my hair pulled back, back stroked, and when it didn’t help, I was bundled up into warm clothes, put into the car, and then they all (mother, father, 2 host sisters) jumped in beside me and rushed me off to the doctor. I’ve never forgotten that experience. I had my two host sisters of either side of me, holding my hands and telling me that everything would be ok, they were going to look after me, they loved me and they wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, whilst my host father in the front seat acted like a racing car driver in a Hollywood movie, speeding through the empty dark streets of Ube, running red lights, taking turns through petrol stations to avoid cars, doing U-turns, all in an attempt to get me to the doctor quicker. When I had to return the next day and get a drip put into my arm, my host mother and host sister sat next to me, whilst I slept in the bed, and watched me quietly. I felt so loved, so protected by these wonderful people, who had only known me less than 2 weeks.
Of course, at the time, I was a relative baby, and they were meant to be looking after me, so if I were to get desperately unwell, or die, whilst under their care, it wouldn’t have looked good for them. I was certainly their responsibility, but what was so touching was that they behaved as if it weren’t a responsibility at all. In fact, so caring, loving and concerned they were about me, that it never even occurred to me until I wrote this all down that they might feel that they had to be ‘responsible’ for me.
The point is though, being sick as an adult, there isn’t much room for the same scale of dramatics. I’m feeling pretty wretched, it has to be said, and, admittedly, I’m probably not as sick as I was back in 1997, but there’s still no room for crying and whimpering. There’s no rushing to the hospital or the doctor, there’s only a check that I have the medicine I need, a glass of water to make sure I stay hydrated, and then I’m left to my own devices in my room. My little man was calling out to check I’m ok every so often, until his mum told him he should leave me alone to rest.
I’m not complaining, its understandable, and reasonable. I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself. I’m sick, but I’m not hallucinating or in a coma or anything, so there isn’t much to be done but just ride it out. But, there is part of me that wishes I could be a whiny kid again, run to my Dad, tell him I feel awful and have him get me flat, warm lemonade (how Dad always got us hydrated and sugared through stomach bugs), get me a hot water bottle and sit me on the sofa in front of some Disney films. I can remember one night, Mum rubbing my sore tummy until I fell asleep. As awful as being sick was, it was also kind of fascinating, there were all sorts of accoutrements that went along with being unwell – pills, and drinks, soups bought especially for you because they didn’t have ‘bits’ in them, salty crackers and dry toast.
But, now I’m an adult, so its up to me to do the parenting and comforting myself. I’m a bit of a harsh parent it turns out. I’ve used the afternoon in bed to have a snooze, but then, feeling guilty about not being up and working, I’ve been checking out toddler websites to see if there’s anything I can do to help Little Man get over being left with me in the afternoons after school. I then read up on various craft activities we may be able to do together, games to play, refreshing my memory of nursery rhymes I’d forgotten… Only one movie, and then back to work! Cries my inner parent. And no flat lemonade, only water! *Sigh* I want to be 13 again.


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