Adrian Sturrock: ‘I’m a strong advocate of the health benefits of being ill.’

I’ve been ill this week. Yesterday, I remained unconscious through pretty much everything that Richard Curtis has ever done only to wake up to the fact that, while I was asleep, the world lost a TV chef, an Australian journalist/presenter, and a British writer/stage director. And these were just the celebrity deaths. Shit! What have I contracted?!

     On the other hand, having spent the last three days consuming only water and rich tea biscuits, my stomach is now completely flat. I think I can work with this.

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I’m a strong advocate of the health benefits of being ill. It cuts down on stress, for a start. Since Monday, there has been an acknowledgement by pretty much everybody that not only can I not be expected to take up my usual responsibilities, but that I must not, under any circumstances, take up my usual responsibilities. This in itself makes projectile vomiting worthwhile. In fact, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.

     Then there’s the detox value of not being able to keep anything down (or in). Apparently, fasting has all kinds of medical benefits, from moderating sugar and cholesterol levels, to improving brain function.

     ‘That’s the last time I’ll be leaving my car keys in the microwave, then’ I say to Nat.

     She appears less confident, however. ‘We’ll see,’ she says.

     What makes vomiting so intrinsically valuable, however, is that it totally legitimises not going to work.

     ‘Yes, I understand,’ says the cover supervisor, when I phone in to explain, ‘but we’re already a teacher down in your department …’

     Thing is, diarrhoea …’ I say.

     ‘Definitely don’t come in,’ she says, and hangs up.

     Who knew that abracadabra and diarrhoea were synonyms? Two words that work like magic.

     This get-out-of-work-free card is, itself, worth a vast amount of health points and quite probably contributes to both prolonged life expectancy and anti-wrinkling. I’m only 53 but this retirement-lite taster session is bloody lovely. Imagine how much lovelier it would be if I wasn’t so regularly having to hug a toilet.

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A further advantage of being unwell is that I’m currently the sole beneficiary of Nat’s maternal instinct (which she denies having but for which I have the lolly wrappers as proof). I’m receiving regular texts from her while she’s at work, to check how I’m doing, and a phone call at the end of each day to see if there’s anything I need from the shops on her way home. This is actually quite nice, and makes me feel cared for. I don’t generally need anything but I always request something, just to see if she means it.

     The cat, on the other hand, is watching me cautiously, no doubt sizing me up in my new horizontal state. I’m maintaining eye contact with it, just to remind it that I’m still the dominant male around here. It has already decided to test this theory by throwing up in the hallway. I’ve ignored him, so he’s thrown up again. We are now laying at opposite sides of the room, silently plotting against each other. I feel obliged to keep the eye contact up, but I’m getting sleepy. This might not end well.

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The only real disadvantage with being ill is from Nat’s point of view. She has to share a bed with me. Being I’ve been asleep for most of the day, I’m probably less sleepy than her right now. This, together with the fact that my body temperature rises at night, has made me a little more wriggly than usual. This isn’t good when she has to get up at 5.45am to catch a train into Birmingham for a conference.

     ‘Will you stay still!’

     ‘Sorry … Ouch!’

     ‘What now?’

     ‘I just accidentally punched myself in the face while trying to pull the duvet up.’

     ‘Well, that saves me a job.’

     I think maybe I should drag myself and my pillows into the spare room.

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I made the mistake of thinking I was better this morning, so I had a shower and ate grapes. Lots of grapes. I’m not feeling as better as I did.

Outside my window, it’s currently sunny but zero degrees. I can hear people scraping ice off their windshields. I, on the other hand, am sat up on my bed, bathed in warm, ambient lighting, clutching a hot drink while trying to decide which movie to watch. Life doesn’t get much bet… Oh, excuse me a moment …

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