These past few months have been tough ones, physically, emotionally and whatever-elsely. Any leave I have taken has been related to either medical or family matters and so I have been approaching this break with some anticipation, if not desperation! The plan was a cunning one. Given that Friday and Monday were both Public Holidays here, I decided to finish up on the Thursday evening and then take a few days as a buffer before the hankered after healing trip to Malaysia….. In those six days between finishing work I would relax in Yangon, take time to prepare for my break and take care of a few tasks which I have not quite managed to work through. You know the ones, the not-urgent-so-they-get-put-to-the-side tasks. This included tasks which although not quite urgent are still important – setting up a scholarship in memory of my father for the Tall Ships Youth Trust, overdue and unanswered correspondence, medical reimbursement claims, a heap of boring-yet-important paperwork tasks. It also included planning and dreaming time (the “focus” part of my three words for the year) and regrouping in terms of creative and personal priorities for the year. It included catching up with friends and having lazy lunches and coffees in Yangon’s nicest spots. Great plans for a few days pre-holiday break.
So I was not expecting the assault which was waiting in the wings for me As I tidied and wrapped up priorities and essentials around me on Thursday I was aware that I had the occasional sneezle. Now my sneezles, I like to think are rather dainty, little soprano “aaa-teeeesh” sneezles. The type that can break windows and crystal glasses. The ones which were appearing on Thursday however, were deep Pavarotti-like “HHHAAAAAA-TRUUMPH” thunder claps, so unlike my own that I could have been convinced that I had been taken over by a dozen tenors with hay fever. It did not happen too frequently though for me to give it much attention, and I handed over my work tasks, worries, tidied my papers into a single “welcome back in two weeks” bundle and spent a pleasant Thursday evening with a friend. I still had the occasional sneezle, but nothing really of note and although feeling very tired, reached home later with no inkling of the impending ambush.
I had probably only been asleep around an hour when I realised that something was brewing. My nose was becoming really stuffy and there was a familiar discomfort on breathing which heralded some kind of upper respiratory cough/cold ahead. By the time morning arrived I was in some sort of meltdown. Some very nasty virus had clearly taken quite a hold. My body was already fighting the abscess, which had required a change in antibiotics, and I knew I was run down and tired. The perfect welcome committee for what would normally be a tedious, run of the mill infection. It was frightening just how quickly and how low this knocked me down. I completely lost four days, four whole days to feverish dreams, painful coughing, streaming eyes and nose and debilitating weakness. Half of my face (or so it feels) has been taken over by an angry cold sore the size of a Pacific island. I can’t even remember the last time I had one of these wretched cold sores. I don’t believe I have been laid quite so low since the chemo days. Indeed, the last time I lost so many days was during a bout of pneumonia when my white cell count lowered enough to let that across the threshold. But even in those days, I was able to get myself dressed and out to the Doctor for twice daily intravenous antibiotic infusions.
I am not sure where these past four days disappeared to, but they did evaporate and finally today, I have felt well enough to raise my head, dress and even tiptoe gently out of the house.
One of the delights of living in Myanmar is that there are so many ways of pampering yourself which are affordable and easily accessible. At the end of our lane there is a small spa or beauty parlour, I’m not sure how I would term it. However, it classifies itself, it is a haven for tired and flagging souls. I decided that my first venture back into the outside world would be for one of those luxurious hair washes which are so much part of life here.
It is not far to walk, but probably just the right kind of distance. Near enough to cope with wobbly legs, but far enough to at least feel as if I am stretching those muscles just a little. With the abscess and then this lurgey, it has been nearly two weeks since I have been able to swim or cycle so gentle exercise is sorely needed.
I turned up on the doorstep of the spa, and requested a tea tree oil hair wash as the scent is reminiscent of eucalyptus and so soothes those airways beautifully. Quite why it also smells like a giant “after eight” mint I am not sure, but it does and I tend to imagine I am wallowing in one of these mega treats! The visit was rounded off with a tentative acknowledgement of my forthcoming trip – holiday toenails. This week I seriously doubted whether I would actually be well enough to travel and whether it would be wise. Feeling confident enough to have my toenails done is the most significant, yet seemingly trivial, signal that I finally feel well and confident enough.