“Urgh,” I say, dropping my work bag on the floor and rubbing my hips. “I am still not over this flu.”
I had the flu a week ago. I took an entire week off work; my first time off work since I started my career. Everybody was ill – sniffling at their desks, looking pale at the photocopier, and I was no more ill than anybody else, really.
“Always before a holiday,” MindReader says.
I catch his eye and smile. It’s true. We’re off to Normandy and Paris tomorrow.
“If we’re gallivanting around Paris all weekend do you think I can just have one day lounging around in Normandy?”
“Billygean,” MindReader says.
“Lots of people do nothing more than lie down and read books on holiday.”
“Even inside?” I say, for Normandy is not going to be bikini weather.
“Yep. Besides,” he says, glancing at the clock. “It’s nine o’clock! Anyone would be tired.”
I concede this point, reluctantly. I have just worked more than a 12-hour day. I do, though, want to chip in with Before and Afters. I am well now – I never really think about being ill anymore, certainly don’t talk and write about it like I used to (i.e. all the time). I think nothing of 9pm at my desk, or meeting for a 7.30am breakfast meeting, or anything, really.
But there are, still, Befores and Afters. It is - I am - not how it was before. My hips did not hurt after a long day, before. My eyes did not go weird. I was not tired like this.
“You aren’t ill anymore,” MindReader says.
I stop fiddling with the threads on our sofa and look at him. I’m surprised to see his eyes are full of pity.
“I don’t trust my body,” I say. “You don’t know what that’s like.” I don’t even know how to articulate how a lack of trust within one’s own body feels.
MindReader nods, runs his hand through his hair. “True. But…” He makes a kind of funny gesture. A kind of weighing scales movement with his hands, and I see what he means immediately. Part of recovering, for me, was trusting my body despite what it told me. Part of recovery was expecting the best, or at least something in the middle, not the worst-case scenario, or even a scenario which I, with some mad logic, expected. I try to remember the times I tested those thoughts; how untrue they were. How sometimes I felt better for having done something, not worse.
“Are you having a bit of a wobble?” MindReader says.
“A bit,” I say. “I cannot get ill. I have too much…” I think of my job, where I am always (expected to be) highly-functioning, think of those days, years ago, when everything as rubbish and it felt as if my life had become derailed and ended up in a nightmare.
“Why would you get ill, when you are well? I cannot get ill either.”
I sit down on the sofa and MindReader paints me a picture. He talks of long hours worked. Of all our walking (and giggling) we did in Barcelona, the strange humid October air clammy on our arms. Of our Estepona-coma, where we slept so well in our sea-scented bedroom, the mosquitoes clinging to the patio doors, and both still woke up sleepy. Of our hundreds of lunch dates, my body strong and healthy as I marched across Birmingham City Centre in my skirt suit. Of our miles-long walks in the snow in January. That time I got up at five and drove to Nottingham, to Derby, to Macclesfield, to London. Of the oh-so-many days spent worrying about my career and my deadlines and my finances, not my health. That we have had a cat for 18 months – for 18 months – and he has never, until last week, witnessed me being ill: proof that it must have been ages ago, as surely Benny has been with us forever. That things are different now. I sit still on our sofa and wonder why those images and thoughts and bad memories are so strong for me that I forget the last 700 days of well-ness, sometimes.
Thank you,” I say.
“But I am sure you can read your book for a rest day on holiday,” he says.