Sick day

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum - Credit: Archant

I’ve been ill. Not the pretend call-in-work kind nor the cough and dribbly nose sort, but a proper poorly that required a trip to the GP.

It was shingles which seems like such an old person’s disease and maybe it’s the first sign for me to wake up to the fact that I’m in my mid-forties and next it’ll be the menopause.

I knew it was shingles before I even went to the doctors because I had it in the exact same place 14 years ago.

I’d come down with it a day before I was going away for the first time with my husband. I was so off my head on the medication and the three G&Ts I drank on the plane, that in a stupid row over the TV screen, I threw a Mars Bar at his head only to hit the stewardess pouring the tea. We were, in fact, the in-flight entertainment.

The shingles this time was double rubbish because my husband was away and there is nothing more annoying than a partner on the other end of the phone who is trying to sympathise but is obviously thinking about his next conference call.


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Also, there is nothing more selfish than a child with a poorly mummy. My kids at the best of times are self-centred and it only takes me having a little chat with them to explain that mummy is ill and needs them to be good, for them to be on their worst behaviour ever. I obviously didn’t pass on the empathy gene to them.

Being a mum without any family support nearby means that you still have to carry on even if your children don’t understand. There’s no such thing as a ‘sick day’.

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Although the kids are now at school there is still loads to be done, especially because things have been a little calm around here so we’ve decided to move house. Apart from the 15 minutes in the surgery waiting room plus the 10 minutes I spent crying at the doctor, I didn’t have time to sit down and feel sorry for myself.

And, you know what, although tempted, I didn’t even put it on Facebook disguised as a check-in at the doctors or cryptic status simply saying “Arghhhhh”.

The medicine that the doctor prescribed was a mega dose of Aciclovir, an anti-viral. Unfortunately I couldn’t get him to write a prescription for an anti-children. It had to be taken five times a day which meant waking up at 3am and also no alcohol. No Snoozing + No Boozing = Mum Losing It.

My friends, bless them, weren’t very helpful. When I told them what I had, their reactions varied from I’d just told them I’m pregnant to the face they must pull when watching Embarrassing Bodies. There wasn’t any need for that big black cross on my door because all people needed was a glance of me in the playground and they’d scarper. Shingles isn’t contagious but I think they were mostly worried about catching my old age.

The worst thing is, I couldn’t even use it as an excuse to get out of going somewhere because the only social event I had in the diary was something I actually wanted to go to.

After three days my husband returned. His initial concern and comfort at me being ill whilst left alone with three hyper children was soon exposed as a cover-up for him actually trying to find out when I would be better to, let’s say, get between the sheets.

I’m sorry, I said. But let me run you a nice bath instead. And so I put out a fresh, nice fluffy towel. (That I had ‘forgotten’ that I’d used that morning.)

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