I have known for some time that the Very Bad Habit of sitting in bed, with a laptop, writing stuff, would one day be the death of me. Well, the death of a pain-free existence. I have thought this every time I have slumped in bed against dodgy pillows, admired the cat sleeping, a cup of coffee to one side, breathed a sigh of pleasure at just how good it all is, the luxury of it, got down to the business of writing, and known that one day, I would bugger up some bit of me because of indulging in this joyfulness.
And it has happened.
Just last week I was in bed-laptop heaven. Why go and sit on a chair at a desk? How boring, thought I, as I typed and backspaced and deleted whole paragraphs, cos I was touch typing and my fingers had been on the wrong keys.
This is the life, I mused, as I checked Twitter, email, then got back in to the writing.
Not that I stayed on the bed the whole day. I did get up to make coffee (that would be instant) and get the mail (that would be, go down to the letterbox and walk back empty-handed), and maybe I did go further afield to buy a watermelon.
But for quite a bit of the time I was in a very bad postural position, and that night, I suffered.
Oh, sweet heaven, did I suffer.
I could not believe how bad it was. As in take-paracetemol-and-barely-sleep and take-more-four-hours-later kind of bad.
My colleague saw me taking them at work the next day, and said, “Have you got a headache?”
I wished I had a headache. It’s less embarrassing than “I wrecked my own back acting like a moron.”
Even worse, the following morning, at around 3am, when I took a couple more tablets to deal to it, they didn’t kick in. That wonderful feeling of dissipating pain did not happen. Not enough to make it bearable.
I considered taking an extra capsule. I read the packet and it said not to exceed the dosage, and I did the maths and knew I had taken my lot already, but pain was not my friend and I decided, screw it. If I overdose and die, I will deal with that when it happens, but I can’t stand this. So I took one extra, just the one, and praise be, half an hour later, it helped.
I was telling a friend about this the next day.
She was all, “You can’t do that.”
“I know I can’t do it,” I told her. “It says so on the packet. But I did it. I mean, people take heroin all the time and don’t die. It’s not as bad as that.”
“No, seriously,” she says. (Her partner is a doctor.) “You can’t do that with those things. It’s dangerous. If you can’t sleep, you should take a sleeping pill.”
I don’t own any sleeping pills, and it turns out that of course, she was dead right about my new little over-the-counter best friends, because apparently, even in small extra doses, they can damage your liver.
Another colleague gave me some anti-inflammatory pills from when she, too, had a bad back (I am a hundred years old just writing that) and then I went and bought some of my own cos I figured this annoying problem might still be around for another day or two, and whatever it was, it clearly needed treatment, and it was cheaper than going to the doctor, and I’d eliminated the usual suspects like appendicitis. Besides. I knew what I’d done.
Oh, yes, I knew what I’d done Miss Idiot-spend-the-day-in-bed-with-laptop.
But another couple of days passed and now I was getting really annoyed. It wasn’t getting any better and I was still going through these painkillers at the same rate. So I thought, right. I better go to the doc and start getting some physio or osteo, or whatever it is they do for morons who damage their own backs.
So I go to the doc and admit the truth.
I have been foolish, I told her. I have been writing on my laptop whilst in bed, with no decent support, and now I am paying the price for this stupidity.
Let’s have a look, she says, so I whip off my top and she looks at the area where I said I’d wrecked my back, and she says to me, You know you’ve got a rash?
What? No. A rash?
Yes, she says. And it’s spread a bit. I think you’ve got shingles.
Shingles? I shriek.
You mean I haven’t done in my back? I have a legit condition that is nothing to do with sitting in bed with a laptop writing with no decent back support?
I swear, that is what I was thinking. I was not dwelling on the horror stories of people suffering weeks and weeks of nerve pain and itching agony with spreading rashes, and hospitalisation and all that stuff. No. It was relief, sheer relief, that I had not indeed brought this misery upon myself. I have not caused this painful back condition.
So I have medications and tons more suitable painkillers, and time off work and instructions to rest and yes I am irritable and temporarily addicted to said little capsules, and I imagine I am itching on every part of my person now, and the doc did say it could get worse, the pain could sharpen, before it gets better, that is a fact.
But I am young and fit.
But I am alive.
And I am so happy I have not buggered my back by working in bed with the coffee, the cat and the lack of decently firm cushions.
I am so happy.
I am most likely the happiest Shingle sufferer ever.
Not that I will indulge in the laptop/bed/coffee/cat thing much more. I will sit at my desk with my chair and be good about that, and try and sit straight as I have had a close call. Even more, I shall not roll my eyes any more when
idiots people go on about their backs and their precious “core” and other parts of their bodies like that. Maybe, albeit, discreetly, I will become a bit like them. But in private. No one needs to know anything else about what’s going on with this body.
PS: I no longer think that itching is imaginary. Actually seems to be pretty legit.
PPS I have made the mistake of going on line and have seen images of people with shingles.