I think the worst thing about being this ill really is, probably, when all is said and done, the Daytime Television. If you’re in constant pain, not sleeping, barely eating, and generally feeling worse than a corpse (Yes I do mean worse than a corpse, there is a point of illness where you begin to feel that at least as a corpse you would get some rest) there are not many avenues of activity open to you. To be at work would double the pain, because every second there increases your self pity. Whys should you be tapping away on a keyboard when you barely have the physical strength to wipe your own arse? Catching up on housework? Well in the spells of okay-ness this is something I do try. But menial tasks are ten times more complex and disappointing as your brain is so focused on the cause of your pain that you find the parts of the mind that usually control motor function and logical thought are temporarily lobotomised. I glared angrily at the kettle for twenty minutes earlier as I had forgotten what its main function was!
So what does this leave you with? Intimacy with your partner? If you share a bed and have not slept this generally means that your poor partner has not either. The twisting and turned about ramblings of feverish patient are not great bedfellows. Furthermore antibiotics cause my body to become a highly dangerous pregnancy risk and the swollen jaw on the right hand side of my face precludes many other intimate scenarios. Hey baby, wanna kiss the Terminator? Boo.
Reading is possible, but I find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again as the mere effort of moving my eyes and interpreting the meaning of words is causing me seriously difficulty. I need entertainment poured into my brain with little to no thought having to go into it. Hence, inevitably, you find yourself half dressed, half asleep, under some kind of blanket, watching shite that you would never normally subject yourself to merely because it is there. But fuck me, what a depressing parade of human misery is Daytime Television!
Firstly I witness an average family who wish to get their disabled son a half decent wheelchair be forced to sell all their family heirlooms for less than they are worth with the presumed purpose of earning enough money to buy said wheelchair. Only to fall short of their target and have to get a loan anyway. Double loss. At least they can take comfort in looking at Grandma’s cherished collection of – Wrong! Gone all gone. But the jolly English ditty played underneath this terrible drama encourages the watchers to view this as an ‘Oops, never mind’ moment and beseeches them to turn in tomorrow for more of the same.
I will not even reference Jeremy Kyle here, I’m ill I haven’t lost all sense of human decency. If Britain were to ever bring back the Death Penalty I would hope that Mr Kyle would be the first to be electrocuted whilst some other arsehole screams in his face, ‘I’m not psychologist, I have no training, medical qualifications or sense of empathy BUT I think that you’ve brought this upon yourself!’
Then I come across Loose Women. It’s like a middle aged Carry On parody where all the women talk about sex but not in a sexy or amusing manner. It’s like witnessing your Aunt drunkenly grab a neighbours hand at some pointless barbeque and put it down her knickers. Well it’s not like that exactly, but it’s the most appropriate mental image I could conjure to make you feel the sense of queasiness that this programme leaves you with. It’s like Sex and the City, without the irony and the decent shoes. Hey gals, why not spend your entire life worrying and wittering about everything in life that does not matter! You should be almost wholly preoccupied about your attractiveness to men, you should worry about and apologise for your weight, such issues should be the main focus of your life! Quite a stunning method statement when you consider the year is 20 goddamn 10. This show has nothing to do with empowerment, but it sort of masquerades as such, which is why it is severely upsetting that it is there.
So I find myself turning to DVD box sets of shows and stories that actually mean something. Because even in a state of near catatonia I eventually want to watch something that means anything or anything that means something. At the moment I’m watching Star Trek. I’ve never been a massive fan but I’ve always quite liked it. More of a Babylon 5 fan myself and Star Trek has always been a little too idealistic for my tastes. But at least there are characters, a story, human emotions. Rather than soap operas that only serve to remind you of how mundane life is whilst attempting to create pathos by initiating a series of bizarre and implausible events which usually boil down to someone doing something selfish that hurts someone else. Well fuck me I feel better already! Poor Data, if he wants to understand human nature make him watch Eastenders for six hours and he may decide that he’s better off as an android. The thing is I do believe that we’re better than that, on the whole.
Daytime Television is a bit like a familiar drug which gives little to no gains. It’s like smoking a cigarette. It dulls the senses, gives no discernable high and leaves your fingers and your breath feeling dirty (Fingers from using the remote, breath from the expletives it causes you to utter... Or however you would like to construct the metaphor, that’s just a suggestion.) Maybe it is the eventual reaction to this cascade of endless bullshit that sets you on the road to recovery. It is so awful that you ultimately feel that you would rather be at work in pain than sit through another second of This Morning. I cannot believe that anyone who is at home during the day actually watches it. Although I know that to be wishful thinking, there must be a market for it otherwise it would not exist, would it? In any case, for me, I am done. I will go to work tomorrow because I am well enough to write this and therefore must be feeling better. I hope that I am not this ill again for years. If I ever get to the point where I am lying prone for an unacceptable amount of time please shoot me in the head! It would be a mercy kill after all...
But then, maybe what makes me feel better is not that at all. Maybe it is when my tired monkey returns to my side with food so nice it breaks through my complete lack of appetite, and turns off the terrestrial Tele. Maybe it is because he replaces it with a film, The Boys from Brazil, and Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, that I start to feel almost human again. It’s not for everyone I guess. We all live in our own realities, and I’m sure that for some the above would be dull as dishwater for them. But getting better is about feeling more like yourself again.
Pain and illness make us unsettled and force us outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes all we need is to get back to ourselves again. And if you’re lucky enough to have someone who can help you do this without even thinking, then you’re a very lucky Chrissy, sorry, person, indeed. Of course painkillers and antibiotics are contributing factors, but as with everything in life it is always six of one and half a dozen of the other (But if you speak to NHS direct at any point it was strictly within the directions given on the packet. Hehe.)