Sunday, 22 January 2012

Out of Sorts

Cast your mind back and try to remember how it felt to be ill, when you were a child. Try to avoid reiterating those stories recalled by your parents. For instance, I have been told that having contracted influenza as an infant, I was delirious. Consequently, I almost remember that fevered state of mind. I can almost feel the beads of perspiration being sponged from my brow, even though the entire experience remains forever locked in my delirium, with only parental testimony to give it credence.

I do remember being confined to bed, only leaving it to sit shakily while my clammy sheets were changed. I remember the waves of unpredictable heat that raced through my small frame, leaving me listless and tearful. Also, the uncontrollable coughing, retching, and the ever present white enamelled bowl, perched ominously on a nearby chair.

I remember how the house felt, on a day when I should have been at school. The daily chores, that unfolded like hopeful auditions, and the sounds of innocuous invasion. A milk float, hauling to a hum, its tinkling load running rings along the the unmade roads around about. Barely audible passings of the day merged with birdsong, quickly evaporating after the effort of squeezing through a cracked window.

A snowscape by Speckly Woo, created during a moment of respite.

 Then, oddly, there were occasional pulses of energy. Respites that tricked me into thinking I was over the worst. Brief spells when I would lose myself in a comic or utter something cheeky, before watching my world float in and out of focus once more. I remember wondering if I would ever get better, then, as the signs of recovery became undeniable, half-wishing for a relapse to the land of extra cuddles and soft pillows.

16 comments:

  1. Wonderfully captured and remembered...I remember such days myself.

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    1. And my, how things have changed.

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  2. No TV in bedrooms and anyone too sick for school could not be downstairs. Books and naps with frequent visits from Mother to see if I was ready for tea and toast or a soft boiled egg. The muted sounds of a weekday taking place without me. Above all, nightmares and daymares whenever I closed my eyes. I don't miss it.

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    1. Ah yes, toast and a soft boiled egg; the great panacea where childhood maladies were concerned. I don't miss it either.

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  3. Perfect description Martin. I’d add the hiss of the Paraffin stove in the bedroom. So much better for SW and her peers, with centrally heated houses.

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    1. I remember we had a paraffin stove downstairs (supplementary heating). It's difficult to believe that ice formed regularly on the inside of our windows back then. As you rightly say, so much better for SW and her peers.

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    2. No central heating in our coucil house either, A ‘Beeston’ boiler in the kitchen, coke-fired, which heated the water and made the kitchen cosy. An electric fire or open fire in the ‘front’ room. The paraffin heater (deadly things) was only used when we were poorly, which is why I associate it with tomato soup and toasted cheese triangles on a tray.

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  4. Your description brings a lot of things back. I listened to "School of the Air" on the radio, and had the vaporiser on when home for two weeks with double pneumonia as a child. Our world had so many fewer distractions than the world today...

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  5. Wonderful descriptive writing Martin. I remember not being allowed out of bed (for if I was that meant I was better and had to go back to school). I remember the muted sounds around the house - much quieter than when all the kids were home from school. I remember being in hospital for 3 days when I was about 7 and feeling very alone when Mum had to leave and how noisy the hospital was at night and not being able to sleep.

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  6. As someone who was a sickly child, I remember indeed--you've captured that very well.

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  7. Well told! I had strep throat with regularity and still remember the half frozen canned peaches my mother would give me to soothe the soreness.

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  8. You've brought it all back so clearly! I used to have a bed made up on the sofa downstairs in the warm with my comics by my side and there I'd stay unless the doctor came - then I'd be hiding under the table!

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  9. I must confess I cannot remember being ill as a child. I remember the odd accident which meant that I had to have stitches in my leg or my head: but the kind of childhood illness that would confine me to bed seems to have passed me by. I have made up for it ever since mind you, (cough, splutter, sneeze)

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  10. A great description of the feeling. Oddly, although I have felt this way as an adult, as a kid I did not seem to notice being ill - think I probably wasn't that bad because I just remember being thrilled to get off school! :)

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  11. You forgot to mention the tomato soup. I always got a bowl of tomato soup when I was off school sick. AND a glass of American Cream Soda - with a spoonful of sugar in it to take out the fizz. Who'd ever have thought we'd look back fondly to when we were ill?

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  12. Great description. My own sick days included having the radio put by my bed and getting hot lemonade.

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