Years ago, when I was working as a nurse in Perth, I was walking home one day and I suddenly felt a peculiar pain underneath my left lower rib. It was like a stitch or a slight cramp. It persisted off and on over the next few days until one morning it woke me up. As I got dressed I realized I was shivering even though it was summer and the pain was definitely more than a stitch. I didn’t have a car in those days so I decided to walk to the closest doctor’s surgery which was about two kilometres away. By the time I got there I was actually holding my side in agony, sweating profusely and feeling faint. The doctor immediately sent me to hospital in a taxi and after many hours of waiting and tests I was diagnosed with a severe kidney infection and ended up on a drip and very sick for over a week. After I was better I decided never to forget that kind of strange stitch-like pain, subtle to begin with, but soon agonizing.
Two days ago, during my little blog-breather, I was cleaning out my office when I felt the same stitch-like pain and that night I tossed and turned with the shivers – a fever. This time I didn’t wait and saw the doctor immediately who took samples and, long story short, yes I have a kidney infection again. Thankfully it isn’t as progressed as last time so I am on a course of antibiotics and that should be that.
I might be very good at looking after people who are sick but I am very bad at actually being sick. When I twisted my ankle the other week anyone would have thought I’d had my foot amputated; when the rooster clawed me and gave me a skin infection I limped around for so many days that Ming told me to stop my nonsense; when I then got asthma for a week I allowed google to scare the hell out of me; and now this.
The three things that scare me most about being sick are these: firstly, I am easily scared; secondly, I am needed; and thirdly, my family and friends will say, “you aren’t looking after yourself – you’re run down” which will make me feel guilty for being sick.
How come, when I am no longer working and no longer having to physically look after Anthony, I am run down? Of course there are logical reasons like not eating healthily enough, not exercising, not getting enough sleep etc. etc. – we all know the drill – but now that I am beginning to admit-to-admit I am a little tired, I think it is simply that I am so sad. No, I don’t mean depressed, although of course that is a factor, I just mean plain old sad – sad about Anthony and his Parkinson’s disease and not being home with us anymore; sad that he is sad; sad that Ming is angry.
Chronic illness sufferers are so much more heroic than ‘come-and-go’ illness wimps like me. I salute them for their courage, determination and wit – and have met many via blogging. They don’t make a fuss about a stitch; they don’t let the sad stuff get the better of them; they soldier on, unfalteringly beautiful, and Anthony is one of these people.
Oh – google has just become my friend again – it says, “It is usually young women who develop kidney infections.” Ah, it’s good when a stitch makes you young again!