“So your CRP wasn’t raised – in fact it’s unusually low,” my immunologist says to me. He has small, neat features and wild eyebrows. “But that means you’re extremely unlikely to have a heart attack.”
“Oh, good,” I say; as a hypochondriac, genuinely quite pleased by that sentiment.
“So my guess would not be a CFS diagnosis, even though that’s a diagnosis of exclusion. Where PFAPA and FMF are bacterial autoinflammatory responses, perhaps you have some rare viral form – are you still having the attacks?”
“Yes,” I say, “but milder – sometimes. Though January was bad. I was at work a lot with vertigo.”
He lifts his hands up in a kind of weighing-scales gesture. “C’est la vie,” he says.
“What now?” I say.
“Well I’m doing more tests – adrenal tests and I will re-check your vitamin D as it was very low.”
I nod. “Is there anything I can do, in the meantime?”
“Well, it will go away on its own,” he says, adjusting his tie. “But generally I would recommend some sun, sunbeds…”
“Eating more – you could stand to eat more. We’ve established you can exercise, so do. Actively manage the stress in your life,” he says, raising an eyebrow; a nod to his exclamation of a lawyer writing a best seller? Oh Christ. “I find viral things go away more easily if your life is on an even keel.”
I sit back in my chair. “My life is not on an even keel,” I say.
“No? Qualification – and the book?”
The two big goals: this time next year I might well be a lawyer with a literary agent or I might – I think in my darker moments – be neither, and all this hard work – for it is that – might have been for nothing.
“Not just that,” I say. “I’m just… finding it hard. It was always like this – after a bad health patch I always did come out of it a bit… anxious.”
“It is always a shock when one falls ill,” he says, his hand reaching towards me slightly. “Even if it’s happened before.”
“Yes,” I say. “For the first time in almost a year I have nothing to worry about.” I shrug. “But I am. It makes no sense. I am seeing someone.”
“Things like this don’t always make sense, Billygean. A depressed person has no cause to feel depressed, often. You do have cause for anxiety, and probably you’ve got used to worrying.”
I nod, feeling choked up.
“Sunlight,” he says as I stand to leave. “Stay in the sunlight and cast the shadows behind you.”