Today I Am Proust

I am not getting out of bed today. I have a cold.

Being ill is like falling in love. It is incapacitating, it gives you a headache, a stomachache, you eat too much or too little, you are surrounded by moist tissues and exuded body fluids, you dehydrate and medicate, and you stay in bed and moan a lot, at least in the beginning.

You become absolutely selfish and unaware of other people’s worries or interests, then when you’re starting to get over it you feel a bit bored, and having a nice hot bath helps immeasurably. It is so romantic.

I have a cold and it’s very annoying, both to me and to my partner who is ever-patient and saint-like and uncomplainingly supplies Lemsips and hot toddies while I lie in bed and repeatedly evacuate the greenish-grey contents of my sinuses into kitchen roll to distribute scattergraph-like around the bed.

Me when I’m ill

In my head I am an elegant, pre-Raphaelite weak yet beatific beauty. I have the back of my badly-drawn hand (hands are so difficult, aren’t they?) glued to my forehead in a swoon.

In the mirror I look insane and streaky. Pretty women are for men with no imagination*.

Actually me when I’m ill

As a medical writer my employment often comprises writing about ideas about ways to avoid such illnesses as the common cold (or heart disease, or cancer, or anything that can ail you), through healthy lifestyles, patent diets, expensive mineral supplements and so on. The importance of being generally healthy cannot be overstated, of course, but lots of illnesses really are unavoidable, and this cold is one of them. I probably touched something that some dirty disgusting child had touched with its snotty fingers. Or inhaled some floating mote of contaminant in the cinema. I am infected. I am afflicted.

I WILL follow my own advice; I’ll eat an apple every day and not just in strudel, drink less coffee and alcohol and more pure, life-giving water. I’ll be more consistent with taking vitamin tablets. I have around twelve nearly-full tubs of multivitamins which have been bought and opened at various points throughout the last ten years or so. I’ll start with the most out-of-date first**; it’s just a guideline, isn’t it? I’m sure at least a few of the vitamins therein are stable enough to have survived being ignored for so long. I’ll take double, just in case. *** And wash them down with a soluble version of the same.****

Back on form ASAP. Will tidy tissues, will have a bath.

*Quotable but obviously stupid.

**This is bad advice.

***This is terrible advice.

****No.

Published by Elaine Francis

I'm a registered nurse making the jump to freelance writing. I started chronicling my notice period with a view to a smooth segue into full-time writing, but it's become an emotional rollercoaster.

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