It began as a sore throat.
I used to get those a lot: over-tiredness, anxiety, dehydration. Anger, sometimes; which could be induced by the increasing number of people I watch each day choosing to put the satisfaction of their boredom before the lives of NHS workers. Many, glancing over their shoulder to check their good name is still intact.
The sore throat.
Then a headache; again, nothing unusual. It’s an unfortunate side effect of high-functionality. I never listen to my heart or my head: I listen to the person controlling them. It’s mainly Ellie telling me to stuff more into the day. A hyperactive but often dysfunctional digestive system also pitched up for the party. Again, familiar.
Then the headache began to change. Ice was sweaty. My skull seemed to hum. A fever? Nah. Have you even had a fever if there were no hallucinations?
It turns out yes. You don’t need to be watching spectres dance in your slippers to be having a fever. (For this ignorance, I blame denial. And Oscar Wilde.)
So that sticky feeling that night might have been a fever. It might not have. I have no way of knowing, because I am alone, I have no thermometer and a questionable memory of the event.
Whatever that was, it hollowed me out a bit. My breath was shallow, but only lying down. For a couple of days afterwards, something crunchy cluttered around in my chest. A tumbleweed, perhaps. A gremlin breaking through the shell of an egg, and crawling up my oesophagus. I think it is dead now.
No cough. Ever.
So you’d understand my confusion when I spoke to not one, but two doctors over the phone, who told me it was likely to be Covid-19. Interesting. There is a marginal chance I could have picked it up on the front door to my apartment block, but don’t really know where else. I haven’t been anywhere, or seen anyone, for weeks. The doctors were being cautious, so I had to be too. I maintain that I was just corporeally exhausted, but. This is the situation we are all in, and we need to be cautious.
Obviously there was no way of knowing for sure. Obviously it is easy to balk at even the suggestion, because I’m fine. I’ve had worse from colds than that. It was so mild, so surely not?
Possible even to the extent that when I called 111 for advice, six days after the “fever”, and described a worrying pinch clasping the bowels of my lungs, they sent someone over to check on me. I was so embarrassed. But so relieved to be pronounced “okay”.
All this, on top of the general environmental angst permeating through my walls, has meant that I have had delay my pre-lockdown journey home again. I have been on my own in my student flat for nearly 7 weeks now, beginning a period of ‘isolation’ prior to going home, only for it to be thwarted by something. Usually me, accidentally finding myself within 2m of a coughing stranger on my ODW (One Daily Walk), and having to start all over again. The isolation, not the walk. Or being forced to make contact with a medical professional, like last week. It is really just starting to grate. The walls can talk, have you noticed?
(For the record: I’ve checked with the authorities and they said it’s totally acceptable for me to leave studentville for home during lockdown, providing I isolate beforehand. So here we are.)
I just want to go home now. I have exceeded all expectations for coping alone during a national emergency even for a “normal” person; let alone a recovered anorexic. It’s a wonder my therapist even bothers calling anymore. I’ve been totally ok. (Insert applause here.)
So, I’ve got 7 more sleeps before I can return home, Covid-19 free.
And I will not fall at the last hurdle and return home in pieces. No sir, I have contingency plans.
My main concern is letting my worries hit the roof if I sense my neighbour is being selfish. I can’t explain why it aggravates me so much, and on it’s own I know it wouldn’t. But it does right now, because we are all incarcerated in this building together. And I think I get upset when I realise that human beings are actually quite selfish, and will put their whims over the comfort and safety of other people.
So I’ve cracked out my old ipod and my watercolours. I’m not being funny, but the hardest thing to draw is definitely a rainbow, which is rather poetic when you think about it.
I’ve also binged ‘Normal People’ and made a not-very inspiring list of films to put on in the evenings should I need some artificial clamour to drown out any worries. I’m open to suggestions (please).
That will work, because when it does I get to go home.
The second thing I’m doing to contain the worry is to talk to the trees.
Try it. They listen.
That will work too, because it always does, and because when it does I get to go home.
Then there are small things that will help. Like switching off the radio unless it is 9am, 2pm or 8pm: my designated news-receiving hours. Even Chris Mason can’t make this situation sound any better, so I’d rather catch up on Woman’s Hour, or listen to Louis Theroux’s new podcast. (So. Excited.)
You’ll need to sit down for this one: I’m also considering re-entering the Instagram world.
You’ll remember my stroppy exit from that scrappy online world, in response to Molly Russel’s suicide. I have since discovered that the company have caved to public pressure, and have redesigned the app to make it less of a weapon of self-esteem-destruction. I’m only speaking from reports from my friends, but they were reports that made me happy.
I’m also on my own, as a lot of people are. Facebook is derelict; FaceTime rare nectar; and phonecalls feel like disembodiments.
So what if I were to get Instagram? Note here: ME get IT, not the other way round. I will only be joining the other millions of people using it to keep up with people.
Kind of hoping you’re nodding along in agreement with me here. I know people can’t change, but apps can. I really want to see just how much the company has done to safeguard us online.
Hope you’re all ok. This will end, and we will all feel at home again soon.