According to a statistic on Reporting Scotland a few weeks back, 1 in 5 people in the country has had the dreaded norovirus over the last 12 months. Let’s ignore the fact that I’m inherently suspicious of statistics on the basis that a) 77% of them are made up on the spot (do you like what I did there?) and b) they can be twisted by the user to fit whatever hole they’re trying to fill (Good News: 4 in 5 people have not had the norovrius in the last year! could easily have been the headline). Let’s instead surrender our trust to the national press, Jackie Bird and whichever researcher decided this information was News. In a nation of 5.25 million, 1 in 5 people getting the same virus is quite a lot.
And I’m pleased, indeed astounded, to announce that I was not one of them! I can’t quite believe it, but it’s true. I am one of the 4 who survived 2012 with bowels, oesophagus and dignity intact. Hurrah!
But it wasn’t all peace and good health in the valley. I did manage to catch a less-publicised rogue illness. Roving through the air like an opportunistic mercenary it found me frail and weak after a Yuletide of excess, and decided to set up home in my immune system. Dammit. Finally it’s been evicted, though a fairly manky old-man cough lies in its wake.
Because this virus wasn’t making headlines, I had to suss it out on my own. Happily, I love a bit of self-medicating, so, for anyone who’s been struck down with what feels like the bastard child of a love-in with the flu, glandular fever and meningitis, here is my Materia Medica on the subject. Forward, Medical Science! I will show you the way.
Symptom: Blinked, opened eyes 90 minutes later. Awoke with throat made of smashed glass.
Remedy: This was a bit of a horrorshow as those 90 minutes were clearly my opportunity to retaliate when the enemy was weakest. Alas the cursed thing had taken root before I got the chance. Not realising the strength of the beast, at this early stage I did what I usually do: inhaled as much First Defence as is legal, drank 4 pints of water and headed to bed.
Success: 2/5. Normally this is a winner for me, but on this occasion I was clearly dealing with some sort of mutant.
Symptom: extreme lethargy of the type known only by the long-term unemployed, and those people who only ever eat fried food.
Remedy: Erm, somewhat unimaginatively, my remedy here was lying down and sleeping. I was too fatigued from being ill to do anything about this. I let myself down, and I let science down.
Success: 3/5. It may not have healed me, but it did make me feel better. Which was great, because it meant I was fighting fit to deal with –
Symptom: horrendous and unprecedented muscular and joint pain. Overnight I turned into an arthritic old woman, resplendent with moans and groans to match.
Remedy: Moaning and groaning. (Vocalising my pain actually helped! Who knew?) Buying shares in Ibuprofen, then guzzling as many as possible, stopping short at crushing and snorting them for maximum effect (it did cross my mind though). Drawing (this distracted my body from the rigid agony it was in). And finally, that old chestnut, regular baths at temperatures hotter than the sun.
Success: 5/5 combined score. The pains lasted for a day and a half but I suspect it might have been longer without my staged intervention.
Symptom: Mucus. Everywhere.
Remedy: Posh ultra-balm tissues, Sudocrem (to combat ungainly glue-sniffer-esque nose from over-use of tissues) and unlimited access to vitamin C-rich tangerines.
Success: 4/5. I was kind of at the mercy of my sinuses here, but these items sure made things easier.
Remedy: Reading. Making shadow puppets with my fingers. Yelling at husband when he breathed. “Sleeping” on the couch.
Success: 1/5. If anyone knows what to do here, I’d be keen to learn. I have never known The Night like I did for the 4 nights I couldn’t sleep, and hopefully I never will again.
Symptom: Hideous, rasping, Woodbine-smoking pensioner cough.
Remedy: Embracing previously successful efforts with a cocktail of honey, hot water and lemon (and sometimes whisky) to no avail, I finally bucked and headed for the modern day witch doctor that is Lloyds Pharmacy. My remedy is The Modern World, Western Medicine and Robitussin.
Success: 5/5 with a special star going to the helpful pharmacy lady who didn’t recoil in horror when I coughed in her face.
So there we are. I donated my body to medical science and experimentation, I survived, and I fully expect to see my name on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year. Me and the guy who invented Robitussin.