It’s several weeks into my living out experience and I’m ill. I thought I’d be safe now that I’m no longer living in college, which in my first year appeared to be a hideous, unhygienic place, perfect for incubating germs. But no. Clearly that bloke who sneezed on me on the train last week was carrying bubonic plague and I am now dying of it (this may be a tiny exaggeration born of sleep deprivation).
I’m not one of those people who get ill very often, but when I do, I get ill very badly. I am categorically unable to get a cold in a ladylike fashion. I will splatter mucus over every surface of every room I enter, making noises like a dying elephant while I do so. I usually spend 10 minutes of a conversation coughing and the next 10 minutes apologising for coughing. Once I’ve repeated this a few times I just stop saying sorry, because there’s only so long I can be bothered to be polite for when my head is pounding like the morning after Sunday Night Klute.
I no longer care about my appearance and so stagger into town without any make-up on and wearing pyjamas under my coat (being ill has a lot in common with my attitude towards 9am lectures). I am sitting wearily on a bench in town, considering going for a little nap right there, when I hear a cheerful cry of my name from nearby. I assume that I am easy to spot from a distance when I’m ill, because my nose glows red, rather like a diseased version of Rudolph.
“Hello!” greets one of my friends, “How was your summer?! I haven’t seen you in AGES! How are you?”
I try to reply but my throat closes up and I can only croak at her.
“You look a bit pale, are you alright?”
“Blergh,” I explain.
“Oh dear, you have a cold?”
“No really I’m – cough splutter choke – I’m fine.”
“I hope you feel better soon!” my friend exclaims, looking worried, and then hurries off to buy whatever it is that healthy people buy. I glance down at my own shopping list, which was written in a fevered state the night before. So far it reads:
- ALL OF THE PAINKILLERS
After this point I seem to have run out of ideas and simply put “FOOD” in large capitals.
It is week 3 of my “Cook Healthy Food While Living Out” plan and I am determined to follow through with it. I trudge into Tesco, and stand in the fresh veg section; after a brief moment of contemplation, even my cotton-wool brain can calculate relative cooking times and effort levels. None of the meals I can think of include breaks in cooking time for naps, or the potential for eating them whilst in bed watching Netflix. With a sigh of resignation, I make a beeline for the Pot Noodle aisle.
Protips for livers out this week:
- Make sure that your housemates are as lovely and caring as mine! They’ll hopefully be sympathetic (especially if they have/have had what you’ve got!)
- Stock up on medicine so that you don’t have leave the house to buy more when you’re actually ill.
- If you do get ill: stay hydrated, eat enough, and above all rest enough. Get an early night, lay off the booze and watch some crap telly!
Photograph: Bryony Hockin