I’m not the first person in the world to contract Glandular Fever and I won’t be the last, but I’m coming out the other side of the virus and I finally have the strength to make jokes(?) about it. 22 days ago, I woke up with a stabbing headache and a high temperature. “Oh it’s probably just a 48 hour thing” I jested to my parents, so I took it easy over the weekend and consoled myself with my own (massively incorrect) diagnosis.
A few days later, I almost blacked out in the shower. Like all responsible adults, I called my Mum and told her I couldn’t get registered in time at a new doctor’s surgery in London, but I was also too feeble to make the train journey back to Essex. BROTHER JOE AND HIS VAN TO THE RESCUE! Once I was back in Essex, my symptoms escalated and I ended up spending three nights in Hospital, even though my GP originally insisted I had a “water infection”. Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s good at giving massively incorrect diagnoses.
The good news is I’m finally feeling better, so I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned during my time as a pain riddled, frustrated, incredibly relieved survivor of this Godforsaken virus….
- Glandular Fever is fucking awful
Glandular Fever is commonly known as ‘The Kissing Disease’. It only takes one saucy bit of lip action to contract it, so I find it hilarious (and cruel) that I caught this adventurous and licentious disease when romantically, things have been very tame for me recently.
The virus struck me down like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t sit up straight for more than five minutes. I had a constant headache for 17 consecutive days (which baffled all of my doctors) and I spent all of my time horizontal, sleeping, or counting down the hours until I could take more Paracetamol (which felt like placebos towards the end). There’s no cure; you simply have to rest, avoid alcohol, and not engage in contact sports for 2-4 weeks. GREAT.
- DON’T GET WORKED UP IF YOU HAVE A TEMPERATURE, OKAY!?
Despite my general sunny disposition and optimistic heart, like most formerly shy kids with a point to prove – I have a volcanic rage burning inside of me. I am an expert at channelling, concealing and controlling it, but when I’m in severe pain or I have to keep repeating the sentence “IT’S NOT A WATER INFECTION” to multiple people; naturally, the rage begins to flare up.
On my second day in hospital, I was told by the doctor that if my bloods were clear, I would be discharged later that day. After the worst night’s sleep of my life (see next point for full details) this news genuinely comforted me. Fast forward a few hours, my temperature had risen by 2 degrees, and (quite rightly) they decided to keep me in for observation for another 24 hours. Internally, I erupted. I couldn’t make eye contact with my Mum, the doctor, or any other patients on the ward. I. Was. Livid.
Little did I know, getting angry or upset whilst you have a temperature causes your temperature to spike. My internal emotional combustion made my second night in hospital even more uncomfortable, so I resolved to CALM. THE FUCK. DOWN. and do everything I could (aka lay still and count the ceiling tiles) to make my mind and body cool again.
- The NHS is great, but you’re a joker if you think Hospitals are a good place for rest/sleep
Obviously, I love the NHS. They’ve kept me alive and properly medicated since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002, and for that I can’t fault them. However…
Having a prolonged headache made me extremely sensitive to any kind of noise, so much so that I had to wear the ear plugs I would usually wear at gigs to gain any kind of relief from the unbearable sound of everyday life. After a lengthy amount of time in an exceptionally loud A&E assessment ward, I was transferred to a proper ward at around 22:00, and much to my relief, the patients were nice and quiet. Hello restful, rejuvenating night’s sleep….
ONLY JOKING! As soon as my head hit the pillow, the ward burst in to life. The woman in the bed opposite me decided to strike up a conversation with the woman to my right about how inadequate her husband’s cooking skills were (that dragged on for 50 minutes). At approximately 3am, another patient decided to rip out her tubes/cannulas because they were “uncomfortable” and then complain that she was in pain when the nurse had to put them back in TO KEEP HER ALIVE. There was also an unfortunate soul who insisted there was something wrong with her catheter as she (quite disturbingly) yelped in pain, only for nurses to tell her she’d tangled the bloody tubes around her leg which is why it wasn’t working properly.
Finally; there was the heathen who slept through the whole night SNORING LIKE A PIG WHILST I SUFFERED NON-STOP WITH MY MIND-NUMBING HEADACHE UNTIL 6AM THE NEXT DAY WHEN I HAD TO CONSTRICT MY SHITTY CORNFLAKES AND AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH EVERYONE ON THE WARD (INCLUDING STAFF) WHO’D KEPT ME AWAKE, JUST IN CASE I SNAPPED AND SMASHED THE ENTIRE WARD TO PIECES. I hope this offers some insight as to why my temperature spiked when they told me I couldn’t go home…
- Codeine is the devil
“Take codeine” they said. “It’s stronger and more effective than Paracetamol” they said. These statements are true, but my body had other ideas. Codeine made me drowsy, it made me vom vom vom vomit, and best of all; it didn’t get rid of my headache. Fuck you codeine. You betrayed me.
- Not being able to listen to music is torture
A music journalist who can’t listen to music? Classic.
A heightened sensitivity to noise coupled with a chronic headache robbed me of the ability to distract myself with my favourite albums, and stopped me from attending all of the gigs I had penned in my diary (I missed Ho99o9’s gig at Underworld last week, definitely cried about that).
When my headache miraculously disappeared a few days ago, I cautiously watched Placebo’s live DVD ‘We Come In Pieces’ and it healed my heart and ear drums. Chelou’s ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ has also been an exceptional tonic.
- I feel a bit broken
I’ve tried to avoid being too aggressive or melancholy whilst writing this (lolz), but truthfully; Glandular Fever has scared the living daylights out of me. I can see the funny side now the headache’s subsided and I’m able to walk up the stairs without feeling like my legs are going to give way, but I’m worried about going back to ‘normality’ in this weakened state.
I’m having trouble sleeping because I keep thinking I’m still in hospital with a cannula in my arm, and I know that not drinking alcohol for the next few weeks is going to be a struggle for me. I also keep getting emotional when I think about having to leave my family home and go back to looking after myself in London again. In terms of independence, I feel like I’ve regressed about 15 years.
I guess those fears will evaporate in time, so I’ll just have to hold on to the hope that I’ll be fit and healthy again next time Ho99o9 are back in town.
Up yours Glandular Fever! (and thanks Mum, I’m a husk without you).