Pressure on my chest

Chest infections are the bane of my existence. I can pinpoint the start of the whole sad story to o’week in my hall of res during my first year at uni. I was there when they were still hazing people, and I got ‘fresher flu. It took 4 months and a trip up north to see a doctor who would actually listen to my chest rather than dismissing me to get the antibiotics to clear the damn thing up. (No, I’m still not bitter – Dunedin Student Health – you ruined my health for the rest of my life). Only, it never cleared up. As my GP a home was sorry to tell me, I was going to have a crackle in my lungs and need an inhaler for the rest of my life. She continued, I’d always have a propensity to now get a chest infection. And so it goes. And she hasn’t been wrong on any count yet – 14 years later – and it still stands true. Mind you adding a compromised immune system to the mix is never going to make life easier.

So here I am. No voice to speak of, struggling to breath, and cursing my tired and aching lungs. This one hit me fast. Last Tuesday I felt odd. By Wednesday – there were shivers. Thursday I was home from work early, and Friday was spent in a fevered daze. So come Monday, when I finally make it to the doctor, she listens carefully to my lungs, takes blood pressure, and my blood oxygen saturation. “You’re lucky”, she said, “we caught it before it became pneumonia. Just.” Got the trusted antibiotics and a medical leave note which she said I was to use, and sent me home.

The last time a doctor told me I was “half a sandwich short of pneumonia” it was 2011 and there was a world cup on. I was sick, but I still did stuff. I went out. I watched games. Which is why there was 6 weeks off work. I wasn’t taking it seriously. This time, sitting up is akin to running a marathon. Breathing is a fine balance of shallow and considered (as to not start a coughing fit), and any thought of even going outside is enough to make me break into a cold sweat. Well. That’s happening anyway, so I guess that’s moot. I wonder now if the Dengue really has messed my system up enough to lie me low for what is going on a week and a half. The antibiotics and my body as still in negotiation as to how they’re going to resolve this problem, and I’m left a sleep-deprived and uncomfortable battleground. I mean really, I’m too old for this sort of thing, but I feel like it’s only going to get worse in from here.

There’s no knitting (brain too fluffy – when you’re messing up stockinette – you know you’re in trouble), no reading (eyes too sore – also difficult to keep a place when coughing up a lung, or, at least something bronchial). So there’s been a brain on some serious wacked out sleep-hungry scenario walk-throughs (attendance has been mandatory), some docos, a few movies, and staring mindless into space. I hate being sick. I’m not a good patient. I’m not actually given a choice here (maybe my body has learnt from previous experiences…)

I’m mildly concerned I won’t be anywhere near well enough come Monday, and we’re hitting crunch time at work because suddenly everybody is sick. What is this next week going to hold? It’s also frustrating because I’d just worked out some gym circuits to do to help with the swimming and I was planning to get in the water and you know? That’s going to be knocked back 4-6 weeks which is a real blow.

And I was supposed to Wagner tonight. Am quietly devastated that I won’t be. I think I will be lamenting that for a long time to come. There was just no way I was going to make it through a 2 and a half hour performance without being lynched for coughing while Brunhilde warbles.

Still, I’ve been able to catch up on some really interesting history docos on the Tudors and the Stuarts, and some amazing stuff on Al Jazeera too. Tonight will also hopefully see a less dreadful game of cricket played by the Black Caps.

But what do you do when you get sick? I mean well proper sick? Do you plan your next escape in your head, or ponder life’s mysteries in that gauzy daze you get when you’re not well? Do you try sleep through it? Drink tea and will yourself better? How do you cope with being sick?



  1. Hate being sick myself. My favorite remedy is hot lemon ginger honey tea. I have a jar in the refrigerator filled with sliced lemons, peeled fresh ginger and then covered with honey and let to sit. Makes a wonderful tea, honey soothes throat, ginger helps stomach and lemon cleans the mouth. A good book or video completes what I need to care for me.
    Hope you heal quickly, take good care of youself.

    1. I live on hot lemon, honey and ginger – they sell it as a syrup which doesn’t last 3 days in my apartment. Memphis Belle on Dixon Street in Wellington does the best fresh version – just the right amount of fresh ginger to lemon ratio… but I think a home made LH&G sounds perfect. I like your recipe and I conveniently have all those ingredients in my kitchen… Thanks!

  2. I take whatever meds are likely to help and then lay on the couch with tea (and honey) and listen to an audio book. I usually have to listen to some parts over and over so one book lasts a long time.

  3. That’s probably a good way to do it with audio books. I tend to zone out listening to them (unless it’s Neverwhere or Good Omens – Cumberbatch as the Angel Islington was inspired), so I really should re-listen to parts…

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