Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I’m no doctor, but my best tests for being ill are: 1) Sweets 2) Does the bedroom suddenly seems like a nice place to be?

X and I went home over Easter and X became ill. I shouldn’t say home should I, because it’s my parents home, and I have never even lived there. But it’s where I am a child myself. Anyway, X became ill. The horrible cold clenching fingers squeezing the tummy and the cold sweat down the back type illness: and that was just me worrying. Her temperature was blazing. X looked at the sliver of light in between the curtains and said she liked this bedroom. I knew then she was ill. You always look at the curtains and think about the room when you are ill don’t you? If I think about the terrible dose of flu I had when I was a little girl what I mainly remember is looking at my painting of the English country hedgerow that was on the wall opposite my bed. I hung onto that painting for three solid days of headbanging misery until apparently I looked over at the bedside table and saw that here was a packet of Rowntree’s pastilles on the side. My mother must have thought I was dying to allow them to be sitting there. I asked if I could have one and then they knew that I was better.

My mother and I took X to the doctor and I asked if she would come in with us but she said no, the doctor might get irritated with two of us asking questions. Doctors hold the power of the prescription pad over old age pain remedies. “ But you might remember something else that I forget,” I protested. But she wouldn’t come.

X answered most of the doctor’s questions well and let him prod her. She must have felt ill. She even did a wee sample. One by one the doctor knocked down all my worries: appendicitis, kidney infection etc. “It’s just a bacterial virus,” I told my mother on the way out, relief shooting though me like a nice shot of diazepam. “But what about meningitis?’ she said.

I spent the rest of the morning telling myself that he would have been bound to have checked for that and didn’t need me to remind him because they obviously were taught not to forget to check for that at medical school weren’t they? Or else what’s the point of my niece busting herself to get straight A’s in all her A levels? Then I rolled a glass all over X’s tummy until she complained I was hurting it.

By bedtime the fact that X was sitting up, eating a sandwich and watching telly was probably a sign that even if he hadn’t checked, he was lucky and wouldn’t be struck off because she was in the clear.

And the next day, Easter Day, I couldn’t get out of bed myself. It was a burning hot day and I burnt up with it. X had a fabulous day in the garden, but didn’t want chocolate, so must really have still been ill. I lay and looked at the slivver of light in between the curtains and every so often X came rushing in, her voice helium-high with excitement to tell me all about the Easter egg hunt and other fun and games. It was really the perfect way to be ill.

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