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The curious case of the missing week

Monday, 16th December

My stomach felt a bit 'off', so I went to work and took some milk and "Babivanille" for lunch. It's a vanilla flavoured baby food powder. I figure if it can give a small sized human a bunch of minerals and vitamins and such, it can do the same thing for a larger sized human that doesn't want to deal with a real meal.

Come break time, I felt really bad. I had taken some "happy new year" cards to work to fill out and take around the post office afterwards. It was the intention.
Reality was throwing a milk drink down, trying not to throw it right back up again, and wishing I could just go home.

Upon returning to work, one of the line managers asked me how I was. Who are you? came the reply. I noticed her name tag. Oh, you're... I have no idea who it was. I was holding a rubber apron, with a vague recollection that I washed up stuff. So I went and did that. I would like to say that I hoped that I was doing the right thing, but by that point I no longer cared. I mean, let's look at it objectively - the only reason I managed to clock myself in was by comparing the clocking in cards with the name written on my own uniform until I found one that matched.

End of work day, clocked out, went home. Went straight to bed. Wasn't entirely certain if I fell asleep or passed out.


Tuesday, 17th December

Felt really bad. Got up, went into mom's room to tell her I felt horrible. No mom there. Nor in the kitchen.
Then I wet myself.

I know I needed to pee, kind of normal morning routine. Then I didn't. To my benefit, I woke up some time later, lying face down on the driveway. Yes, outside, in the rain, in December. Given how soggy I was, I guessed I'd been there for maybe a quarter hour.
As I write this, I am aware that mom has died. I'm not sure if I was aware on Tuesday.

I phoned for a doctor's appointment, then phoned work and said I wasn't coming in. And that's the last thing I remember until half four when my alarm went off. I was in so much pain. It was weird - I knew I wasn't especially cold being wrapped up in two duvet and a heated blanket, but then suddenly and in a matter of seconds I would feel estremely cold, like butt-ass-naked-in-Siberia style cold. Every muscle clenched hard and that was what caused the pain. This would happen maybe every ten minutes. And the entire time it felt like I was falling.

Drove myself to the doctor. No idea how. Amazed I didn't crash. I guess the slow car and not many people on the road helped. Sat there for nearly two hours (yeah, she was seriously late) just trying to stay conscious. She poked, prodded, and asked questions. Told me it was bronchitis, and a virus. So I wasn't surprised when my prescription was for paracetamol. Doctors don't like giving out antibiotics these days, and there's no point in this case as a virus isn't bacterial so antibiotics won't touch it. Instead, just gotta see this through. Of course, I'd have to man up a little harder as my appointment finished at twenty to eight, ten minutes after the chemist closed, so it'd have to wait a day before I could even get paracetamol.
Doctor, I think, was impressed that I at least had the sense to stay away from mom's painkillers. In the next room are loads of pills of interesting formulations for cancer and post-op. So if I had wanted to whack myself out on codeine, it would have been easy. But things were already so far whacked as they were that I didn't see how such a thing could stand a hope of making things better.


Wednesday, 18th December

I was signed off work from Tuesday until Friday. As I'm a low grade nobody, the first three days are unpaid. The fourth day will be covered. But I'd need to take the paperwork to them within 24 hours. It's the way it goes. I got up to head out around noon, and promptly threw up hard enough to faint...yet again. Something of a theme that, isn't it.
I looked at my signed off paper, it said I was supposed to be present at home between 9-11 and 14-16. So I went back to bed and basically cold-cycled endlessly until four when I tried to get up, and fainted.
Third time lucky, I somehow got myself going, into the car, into town. Nobody in the offices so I went around to the reception area and spoke to a pretty and pleasant woman. I think I work with her. She asked me if I was able to drive. I mumbled something in reply, all the while wondering why she was speaking to me in French. Still, handed my paper over, then got into my car. On the passenger side.
Oh my god, everything is back to front.
I got into the other side of the car, and figured that this must be why everybody is driving on the wrong side of the road.
Went to the chemist to get headache pills, then home. The chemist suggested that if any of my mother's protein drinks were still around, that I might want to drink a few to keep myself going. That sounded like a reasonable idea.

On the way home, in the forest, slammed the brakes on. Right in front of me was the most godforsaken ugly son-of-a-bitch that fell right off a death metal album cover. Yup, I'm talking about a wild boar. Standing there in the headlights, demonic yellow eyes reminding me that I was driving a Playmobil car. I put my hazard lights on, and waited for the obligatory French driver. Who went whizzing around me at speed, honked, and then slammed his brakes on. But he had a big-ass four wheel drive jobbie, so he started flashing the main beams, honking, and driving right at the creature. The creature took the hint and ambled off the road before it actually got hit. It turned and delivered a death glare that would easily outclass Nancy Pelosi, before vanishing into the darkness.
Then I continued home.


Thursday, 19th December

I have no recollection of this day. Nothing at all.


Friday, 20th December

Early in the morning I became aware of sweat pouring off of me. I was insanely hot. I think mom would probably have said that was the moment the fever broke. I just figured that the boar incident wasn't quite enough adrenaline to break my ability to sweat. Oh, wait, was that just a crap excuse spouted by a man who doesn't sweat simply because he's so narcissistic that he doesn't relate to anybody other than himself? Hmmm, it could go either way, couldn't it?

Mid-afternoon, I made myself a carbonara ready meal, and pulled all the yucky pork bits out and ate the rest. The first thing I'd eaten since Sunday. I had no appetite and had to force myself to eat.

Didn't sleep that night. I thought the illness was going to start to get better, but instead I spent the entire night coughing hard. So now a whole different set of bits hurt. Lovely.


Saturday, 21st December

I felt a little better, but still had no concentration whatsoever. Got myself into town to buy something to drink, also went to the chemist to get some expectorant.
Came home after, lay in bed. Still felt like I was falling, but the coughing had eased a little.


Sunday, 22nd December

I didn't want to get up, because I'd figured out that getting up changes something in my head that triggers the sort of coughing that usually finishes up with vomiting. But I had to get up at least twice - to feed the cats in the morning, and again in the evening. In reality, I had to get up a number of times for toilet needs too. And I threw up. Every sodding time.
Still, asides from that I felt good enough otherwise that I ate a couple of ready-meals from the E.Leclerc that I got last weekend, intending to have taken to work through the week.


Monday, 23rd December

Final day at work. I got up, went in, and apparently I must have looked really bad as everybody told me that I could have just stayed at home. My stock was in total disarray, whoever replaced me had done my job without much thinking of the future. So I made up a command and reorganised things back to where they were supposed to be. Along the way, one of the people I work with gave me a little present, which was sweet. I promised her I'll open it on Christmas Day. Well, it's the only present I have so why not...

Finished my shift, felt totally shattered. But my smiley-santa jumper was popular, so I'm pleased I at least got to wear that, and a santa hat. It did have blinking lights, but, hey, Made in England... it conked out after about two hours. :-/


Tuesday, 24th December

I got up about 9am and sat with a cup of tea. First day I've sat up in bed and not felt woozy. I looked over and saw the wrapper from a chicken and tagliatelle meal, and remembering that I took a chicken tikka meal to work yesterday. So I decided that today's mission would be to go get some more.

And that's what I did. Mostly.
I walked around the supermarket when I realised that the weird feeling was hunger. So I went to McDo. That was a big step forwards, actually wanting to eat something. Got a big burger, and a coke. Drank only enough of the coke to help the burger down. Dumped the rest, it was absolutely disgusting. I think they're mucking around with the recipe to try to reduce the sugar for some essentially arbitrary government ploy to reduce sugar. If I wanted some horrid chemical concoction trying to pass itself off as coke, I'd have ordered a diet coke.
As I write this, I am having Fanta out of a tin. It's got sweeteners in it these days, but at least there's some honest-to-god sugar still in there too.
I'm also able to write this now, now that I have enough concentration to actually sit down and write something.


This hit hard

I think it's probably fair to say I've never been hit this hard by a bug before. Hard enough that I am effectively missing an entire week. I'm not right yet, it may take weeks to properly recover. But I'm no longer lying in bed and falling, falling, falling.

This, if ever a demonstration was needed, is a good example of why I do not celebrate my birthday on the 16th of December. Yes, that's right. All of this kicked off on my birthday. Paul McCartney is on the radio right now singing about simply having a wonderful Christmas time but I hate this time of year. It's not bah humbug, it's cold and miserable and loads of illnesses do the rounds, and if you're lucky there's light between nine and six (or eight and five in British time). It's crap, naff, and I wish I could hibernate and just miss it entirely.
I celebrate my birthday on the 16th of June. Just a dash before longest day, much better weather, and one doesn't tend to get these sorts of illnesses in early summer.

I'm not sure what to do about my advent calendar. I might resume as of day 16 and just open one a day until it's done. I can hardly open a week and two days at the same time. At any rate, this really wasn't what I had planned. It is, indeed, the curious case of the missing week.


Tomorrow is the day

Well, tomorrow is the day. The Queen will probably issue her infamous speech through clenched teeth. How many Queen's Speeches this year? And I'm sure there will be plenty of nice sounding bollocks about the importance of the Union, which will all sound a bit hollow giving that the UK is going to walk away from the most important union it has ever been a part of.

Here in France, loads of people are on strike over pension reforms. Personally, I think Macron is doing too much too soon. You see, there are two things to consider. The first is to get rid of some of the weird specialist pension regimes that see some workers (particularly public service) able to retire at the age of 55. To put that into context, if it was me, I'd be looking at retirement in nine years. That's insane. Given the state of medical care and how long people are living these days, I don't think there are many jobs that justify retirement at 55. You'll notice that it's the likes of air traffic controllers, railway workers, and the like who are on strike. Because they're the sort who benefit from the ability to retire at 55. People like me? We're not on strike as we retire at 62.
Macron might have had some measure of support from ordinary people if that was the aim of his primary pension reform. But, no, he also wants to take the retirement age and raise it from 62 to 64 at the same time. This is bringing in a whole additional group of annoyed people. I'm sure the age of retirement does need to go up, because the state isn't an endless source of funding to support people (especially when public service pensions seem based upon their best performing so-many-years). But since we have the retire-at-55s and the don't-mess-with-the-retirement-age groups to deal with, it's going to be a mess that will make or break Macron's presidency. And, of course, the next presidential hopeful could always pledge to restore the current broken pension system and kick the can down the road in return for some cheap votes. I've seen Marine Le Pen on the TV offering her words of wisdom. Well, it's easy to have all the answers when you're not in charge of anything, right?

So it's yet another Christmas with France "closed due to strike action". Yes, it is annoying. But that's the point. The people have the ability to vent their frustrations and, maybe, to be able to directly hold the government to account to bring change in a very direct way. It's though these sorts of actions that France has a generous and integrated social care system. A limitation on how many hours a week a person works (which, granted, is more theory than reality but at least it exists as a notion), sick leave, five weeks of paid holiday per year (plus numerous religious holidays). Everybody who feels the French are whining and are still going on strike despite all of these sorts of benefits - they have it wrong. The French have those sorts of benefits because they were willing to fight for those sorts of things.
This is no different. And, yes, it's okay to be annoyed. That's your role. Complain. And maybe enough complaining and it will bring about the change that people hope for. I'm not sure that there isn't a need to do something with retirement, but let's see who wins this one - the militant unions, or the magisterial President.

At any rate - happy christmas. Whatever you're doing tomorrow, have a nice day.



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David Pilling, 25th December 2019, 00:49
Hey Rick - I'd been wondering - hope you get well soon. With luck Christmas day will be a turning point.
Mick, 25th December 2019, 03:23
Relieved to read you Rick. I second DPs wish for you to get well soon so the vote can move to the floor. All those in favour ;-). You've certainly been through the wars of late haven't you! Anyway, nice to see your scrawlings again after such a long absence. Re: France on strike : Macron could always ask Boris for advice on how to dupe a nation couldn't he?
Zerosquare, 25th December 2019, 19:03
Get well soon!
Gavin Wraith, 26th December 2019, 13:55
Glad to hear that you are recovering. But what was it? I am glad I had my flu jab, reading your experience. Sensible to have a summer birthday. But why only one birthday a year? One a week is possible, in my case Thursdays. Best wishes.
Rick, 26th December 2019, 14:53
Hmm, can't be Thursday. Thursday is traditionally when France goes on strike. 
Don't want a weekly birthday. It wouldn't be anything special if it happened all the time. Plus, it would make me 2401 because that's how many weeks I've been around. 
Or a little under one and a half BILLION seconds. :-)
Pieter, 27th December 2019, 02:41
Glad to read you are recovering, Rick. Take enough time for yourself. And counting to 2401, it seems we differ only two weeks or so? Best wishes from Japan.

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