I woke up feeling utterly disgusting this morning, really really icky, and in the few seconds that it took for my self awareness to have a chat with my body and carry out a diagnosis, I did a quick stocktaking of all the pharmaceutical goodies in our drugs cupboard (bizarrely enough, all kept about the kitchen sink and not in the ninja storage shelves behind the bathroom mirror) in preparation for the results.

I’m not sure how you are when you’re ill, but I have two default settings that click into action depending on how I’m feeling and exactly what’s wrong with me:

1) If it’s a cough or cold, the sniffles or a bit of a headache, a sore leg or a slightly upset stomach (basically, anything that will take a few days to sort itself out) then I become The Sponge and drag a blanket to a comfortable spot where I can sit, lie or lounge, either in the front room or near the kitchen, but always somewhere central with a regular stream of people traffic, my seasoned heart-tugging puppy eyes primed for deployment, giving out the occasional at-deaths-door sniff or cough, ready to soak up as much attention and fuss as I can.  This strategy seems to be most effective when implemented at The Mothership’s house, or when I visit my Nana; mothers and grandmothers being cursed with a natural Achilles heal for unwell family.

2) However, if I can feel a migraine blossoming inside my skull, am running a fever, have cramps or am crippled with the much debated and (presumed by some to be) mythical PMS, then I become The Nester and will take my hot water bottle and seek out a quiet, safe spot in which to wrap myself in all the blankets and pillows I’m able to carry and do nothing more than sleep the pain away.  I’m not in the mood for attention or comfort, I don’t want sympathy or fuss, I want to be left alone, undisturbed, and be dead to the world, only resurfacing when my body has finished a half decent repair job on whatever was ailing me.

When I’m The Sponge I will eat whatever is made for me, using coughing, sneezing or giving out my perfected death rattle to bully culinary kindness out of passersby.  I find that illnesses or afflictions that trigger a Sponge reaction are usually accompanied by an insatiable appetite as my body grabs whatever energy it can in order to fight its fairly intense internal war, and I always remember The Mothership’s favourite housewives saying of Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold.’  When I’m The Sponge I drink absolutely loads of water and wipe out huge amounts of hot buttered toast with Heinz cream of tomato soup and black pepper; the occasional baked potato with coleslaw and cheese; or fish finger (fish sticks for your Americans) and ketchup sandwiches.  The common factors with Sponge food are comfort and heat, and once temporarily sated I’ll settle back down to doze.

When I’m The Nester my feeding is more for survival and less about being comforted, my body craving sleep and liquids more than sustenance, so with my body clock all messed up I won’t follow normal eating patterns and will usually only eat once, surfacing during the afternoon for a quick bowl of noodles with vegetables and tuna, returning to The Nest to sleep all the way through until the next day; or I’ll emerge from my nest after sleeping a whole day away, long after the family have gone to bed, and heat myself a bowl of leftovers from dinner and usually be unable to go back to bed for at least an hour or two, regardless of how horrible I’m feeling, while my body digests the meal.

We all have our quirks and peculiarities, habits and routines that make us who we are, and this is merely my way of tackling being unwell, having honed my methods into a fine art over the years.

This morning I had a headache that was threatening to turn into a migraine, but I pushed myself and got up with The Hublet, making him a bowl of grits and a cup of coffee while he had his shower, then spent some time sitting down with him at the dinner table while he ate, sipping on a glass of water to soothe my hot head.  He left for work and I was fully prepared to make a blanket nest and return to our wonderfully still-warm bed, but realised my head was hurting due to dehydration instead of being an indicator of something else, so I grabbed a bottle of sugar-free Gatorade (The Hublet’s restorative sports drink of choice) and a bottle of water and rehydrated myself over the course of the morning, feeling infinitely better once I’d finished the two off.  So then I sat down to blog, and managed to find inspiration in the way that I’d considered the different approaches that I take to being unwell.

Have a good day, stay healthy and always, always keep a bottle of water to hand and a can of Heinz tomato soup in your cupboards.


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