The mask

When I lived in Japan back in the late 90s, I remember getting a big shock the first time I saw a person walking down the street wearing a mask. It’s an odd sight and one you never see in the West. It all makes sense though now. The Japanese are highly mannered and deeply considerate of others (theirs is the culture in which you never, ever wear outdoor shoes in the home, for example). They take personal hygiene extremely seriously; it’s part of their culture. So if you have a cold or cough, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll wear a mask so that you might go about your daily business without the risk of infecting others. Sensible stuff.

So why don’t we wear masks here, we’re in the throes of a pandemic after all? I think it is because culturally we loathe masks and what they represent. Just think of our hatred of the burqa and hijab, for example. Contrast this with Japan where Noh (masked drama) has been part of their culture since the 14th century. In Western culture masks have very negative connotations. Gas masks (reminding us of war and oppression), storm troopers, horror movies such as the hockey mask from the Halloween movies and the black and white mask from the Scream movies.

I have been trying to persuade Vic to wear a mask because she is pregnant and runs the daily gauntlet of what we call the London tube – that feral, subterranean spider web of tunnels that transports millions of us around this dirty, degenerate city every day. It is a grimy rat hole. Sure, you see them cleaning it every morning – but they’re clearing it of rubbish – not actually cleaning it. Where is the bleach to sterilise the handrails? There isn’t any. Subsequently, it’s a breeding ground for all types of germs. And for this sin city in which all of humanity and its myriad illnesses and vices are contained – it is a location ripe for pandemic and plague. I am not at all surprised that we have the highest rate of swine flu in Europe.

We should be wearing face masks. And heck, why not let’s have some fun whilst doing so, like they did in Mexico?

The sleep of the damned


(via skinny ships)

I popped two green & white capsules last night as I went to bed at 10pm. Night Nurse. First time I’d taken it funnily enough (like I said, I do not get ill from one year to the next).

10 hours later I awoke from an uninterrupted sleep. Felt like a zombie but two hours later, I’m feeling marginally better.

This condition is so up and down. I actually feel half human now but if yesterday is anything to go by, I’ll go downhill again later. Also, the 2 paracetamol I took at 9am are probably kicking in which explains why things aren’t so bad.

It could be worse! My work interviews are being cancelled. Other than those I had quite a quiet week, so on the work front it’s not a disaster. Plus, others at work have it.

Hoping the worst is over.

A very comprehensive Q&A about swine flu here.

Medicine man

I spoke to the doctor this morning. Having called the surgery just after 8am, they finally called me back around 11am I think.

They diagnose by phone. They won’t be able to confirm if it’s swine flu unless they swab and they now only do that in high risk cases: elderly, pregnant women, children, those with underlying conditions.

It’s aggressive whatever it is. I rally for hours and feel considerably better – then go right downhill again. I can feel my head is hot again and I’m quite weak, mostly through lack of eating (no appetite).

I was offered Tamiflu but the doctor asked me to bear in mind that they’ve noticed ‘increasing’ numbers of people experiencing side effects – namely vomiting and skin rashes. Neither of those appeal. At best, Tamiflu can apparently (the doc said) ease the final 24 hours of symptoms. So I’ve decided not to take it and to stick with paracetamol.

Sheridan has been great. He came round this evening with 2 big Sainsbury’s bags of shopping. Stuff I’d asked for and stuff he knows I need to be eating! Fruit, juice, bacon, milk, soup, sweets, chocolate, etc. Also more drugs – Lockets, Night Nurse, tissues etc. He said to me this evening (he wouldn’t cross the threshold as is understandably nervous about getting it) that I look a lot worse than yesterday.

I don’t know if I feel worse. Just more sapped of energy. I’ve eaten so little in the past 3 days though I’m trying.

I did manage to sleep for a couple of hours this afternoon but felt really groggy and horrid when I woke up.

I’m not at ‘death’s door’ but this is definitely the most ill I’ve been in as long as I can remember. I usually get say, one cold a year, and maybe one cough, but never flu. That happens to other people! Only, not this time.

Hoping I’ll have a decent night’s sleep (haven’t the last two nights) and will feel better tomorrow. The cough I have now racks my whole body which doesn’t help.

Symptoms began on Friday evening so I’m about 3 days in now. Not sure how long it’s going to last.