There are multiple ways in which I am like the elderly. I am really keen on parsnips. I like to talk loudly. I have some beige clothes. But beyond these, the main way in which I am like the elderly is the extent to which I love talking about my ailments and illnesses in graphic detail. I shall allow myself only three gruesome turns of phrase in this post.
So indulge me, for today – this grey Friday – I am writing at midday from my sofa in my flat, having spent the best part of the last twelve hours evacuating something resembling gritty sludge from my innards (two descriptions remain). Another night weeping on the bathroom floor, questioning why it is happening and when it will end. Horrible.
Being a teacher alters my experience of this. Last night, literally in the breathless intervals between heaves, I was thinking of how this was going to affect my day at school. Yes, after the first two dramatic nocturnal bowel purges, I was still thinking of how I would manage at school. Perhaps I could allocate a mature child the responsibility for classroom management if I had to run off to push open the lock on Brown Niagara (one horrid description remains).
After another sweaty hour spent trying to map my digestive system, wondering literally how I could be storing so much fluid, I realised that today would be a Sick Day.
There Is nothing more conflicted than a sick teacher, caught between the genuine potential for bodily collapse and the feeling of weird responsibility that makes you think that even a pallid ill version of yourself would be better than whatever would replace you. My dreams last night, in between my hourly perambulations to the bathroom floor, were full of work anxiety not mortality anxiety.
Today is a busy one in school. I am supposed to be observed by the Ethiopian Minister for Education at 10:10, and had a rock-solid lesson on climate change planned and ready to go. I had promised my kids I would teach them how to do a lay up in basketball. I haven’t been able to set them any homework, which they will love me for. I am supposed to be tutoring at 3:30. I missed a Brass Band visiting in the morning.
It makes you pause to realise how rammed our days are. One day out, and you feel like you have fallen off a cliff. I am glued to Whatsapp, begging not to be forgotten and feeling borderline annoyed that school functions perfectly well without me in it.
Anyway, I am going to go get some Lucozade now and then perhaps brew another pot of bottom Bisto (no more horrible descriptions allowed). My final thoughts, isn’t odd that we feel guilty for being ill.