I’m pulling a sickie

Last Friday night I went out with work colleagues and friends to bid farewell to one of the team who’s leaving Jersey for pastures new.

It was a great night filled with laughter, gossip and – in my case – a ready flow of JD and Cokes.

It was a joy to see them all, it was sad to say goodbye to Mark, and it was a pleasure to spend the evening in such super company.

Saturday, Sunday and a reasonable amount of Monday were then spent in bed, barring a brief aborted attempt to go to a coffee shop to read the papers on Sunday morning.

What I experienced was, according to those in the know, payback.

Not payback for a wild night, not payback for those JDs, but payback for going out in the evening for a few hours while I’m battling a mystery fatigue.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my ongoing health issues and my desperation for a diagnosis. I was blown away by the hundreds (yes hundreds) of messages I received from people all around the world. Some simply empathising, some stuck in a similar position to mine, some offering ideas of what’s wrong, and some suggesting crackpot solutions.

That blog, and the response I received, achieved a number of unexpected things.

Firstly, it was cathartic to get my thoughts down in writing. The flow of words was like a physical release to the mental pressure that had been building up inside me, mainly through sheer frustration.

Second, the messages made me feel far from alone in what is, often, an isolating situation. The very time of day I have energy (the morning), is the very time my fiancé and friends are at work. When they’re done and free to do nice things in the evening, I’m a dead man walking who just wants to be in bed.

And third, the blog and the response to it gave me a fresh sense of empowerment to push a little harder, to be a little more assertive, and to keep up the momentum among the myriad health professionals who are doing their best to help me.

In addition to all of that, I also mulled over a few things about myself. Characteristics and actions that seems to crop again and again, as if I am stuck in a groove.

The main one is that I am making up my illness.

At the start of the day I feel fine. I mean really fine. Sometimes I feel fine until 8am or even 9am. And when that happens, every time, I convince myself that I am pulling a sickie, that I’m making up my symptoms, and that my employer and work colleagues think I’m a fraud.

Today was one of those days.

I’d taken this morning really easy. An early start, watching TV, taking a picture of the sunrise, enjoying a nice mug of coffee. Then, at 10.30am, I took a slow stroll to the coffee shop via the newsagents. All was well. I felt on top of the world. By the time I reached the queue in the coffee shop that cycle of “sickie/making it up/fraud” was echoing around my head.

By the time I’d reached the front of the queue, I could feel pain moving all over my body and sweat pouring out of me so much that my t-shirt was stuck to my back, and my hair was wet, rather than damp.

Coffee served, I sat down to read my newspaper and could barely get through the front page stories. The words were an effort, the page looked too busy. Basically, my head had done its brain fog thing where everything is too overwhelming to process.

It’s now 12 midday. I am sitting at home on the sofa, about to go to bed.

This is the side of things people don’t see, and it’s soooooo irritating. I just want to go to work!

Thankfully, things are progressing. My referral to a gastroentirologist came through and I had an endoscopy yesterday. Next week I see the microbiologist, and the week after I have two CT scans. Plus, I’ve started seeing a chiropractor with a view to dealing with some of the skeletal aches and pains.

I remain hopeful and positive, and writing this reminds me that I’m not making it up! And if my (brilliant and understanding) employer reads this blog… please don’t take the headline literally.

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