Mum’s Got Flu

I used to do an excellent line in self-pity.

After the ex and I split up I spent a long time feeling sorry for myself. I was well-used to the ugly cry when something didn’t go my way, the snotty weep on the bathroom floor waling “it’s not fair!”. Only natural, I think, when your life suddenly gets turned upside down: I didn’t quite know how else to react sometimes.

These days I’m a lot more karmic about life. Things happen for a reason and, though it doesn’t make the tougher times any more palatable, I know that situations aren’t specifically engineered by the universe to piss me off. It’s just life, innit.

With one exception.


When I’m ill I revert to a child, a weeping, snotty dependent screeching “it’s not fair” at any opportunity as I dab at my red raw nose with the second roll of toilet paper in 24 hours. I feel greatly sorry for myself, angry at the injustice of these few days I’m forced to lie in bed, too ill to do anything: read, write, work, Netflix (a word that is now a verb, apparently). Being ill is just the worst.

This week started off weirdly. I had to take a nap during the day on Monday, quite unlike me unless the kids are up in the night, something has upset me or I am coming down with an illness. The same happened on Tuesday, and I slept for over two hours.


I started feeling really crappy that evening and, by the time the children’s dad brought them home from their afternoon out, I was on the sofa with all-over body aches and sniffles.

“Nothing a good night’s sleep won’t solve!” I optimistically thought, heading up to bed to watch Breaking Bad on my iPad (watching for the second time has been just as good as the first, FYI).

I woke up the next morning feeling exactly the same, only ten times worse. By some feat of a miracle I got the children dressed and despatched with my mum, who saved the day by taking over the school run. Wednesdays are always time I take to spend with Hux and I was feeling horrendously guilty I had sent him to nursery on a day that was reserved for mummy time, but really there was no way I could have left the house or entertained a bouncy three year old.

It’s amazing how being ill can make you revert to a whinging child. With nobody to whine to I internalised mine, whimpering to myself how it wasn’t fair that I was so incapable of doing anything when I had a to do list the size of my shopping list (my shopping list is MASSIVE). I tried to read a book, tried to watch TV, tried to flick through a magazine. I felt too crap to do anything involving my brain and stuck to mindlessly scrolling through Twitter in between sleeps.

I couldn’t stop sneezing, I had headaches and my skin was sensitive to the touch. My one attempt to remain human involved piling face serum and oil onto my dry cheeks, some sort of lazy lymphatic massage to help drain my stuffed sinuses and a quick brush of my hair. But you know, when you’re ill, you just feel a bit gross, don’t you? No matter how much Decleor you stick on your face.

(BTW, fellow flu sufferers, The Sanctuary Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil has been a DREAM on my poor dry face, as has Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream for my ravaged nose)

This is one of the times I really miss having someone whose job it is to nurture your every whim at times like this. My mind flashes back to the marriage, when I could text long weird shopping lists full of things to be brought home on the evening commute: Ribena, orange juice, Pringles, Pick Me Up! Magazine (don’t judge…), Strepsils, Kitkats. Instead I’m left to fend for myself with the contents of my fridge and the pile of unopened mag subscriptions: endless Innocent kids smoothies, bananas and the last 3 weeks of Grazia and Stylist. It could be worse, but it’s pretty rubbish not to have someone to tuck you in to the sofa with a blanket, a box of tissues and a Lemsip. Here’s an actor’s impression of how I’ve been feeling these last couple of days.

Literally, I can’t stop thinking about warm Ribena and the fact I haven’t got anyone to bring any to me. I don’t even like sodding Ribena.

The children are lovely at giving cuddles when I’m ill, of course. Hux even joined me in bed last night, the sweet little boy. He somewhat ruined the sweetness of his 4am gesture by weeing on me, but it’s the thought that counts.

I’ve been lucky enough to have my mum helping out with the school runs but feeding them has been a challenge. When you’re this ill, anything feels like a marathon: having a shower felt like walking to Everest’s base camp, changing my sweaty bed sheets felt like climbing Everest itself. Managing the cooking of a meal that they ate, including vegetables and pudding? I imagine this is the sense of accomplishment Felix Baumgartner felt when he fell from the stratosphere back down to earth.

In a nutshell, you could say I’m not a patient patient. I’m not good with being ill. IT’S NOT FAIR.

The one upside to illness is getting better. I haven’t left the house in three days: I just know that when I get my health back I will feel invincible, sooo appreciative for the ability to walk outside, drive a car, go to the supermarket. The sun will shine that little more brightly, the birds will be singing… I’ll be freaking Mary Poppins for a couple of days.

Until then, if you want me I’ll be wallowing in my (clean) sheets with my tissues, Rudolph nose and 8 Hour Cream. Send Ribena.

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  1. Georgina Whitehead wrote:

    You have just summed up how i’ve been feeling for days…such hard with just one, I don’t know how i’d manage with 2! Good work and feel better soon :)

    Posted 1.28.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thanks Georgina, I’m finally coming out the end of it! Hope you’re all better now :) x

      Posted 1.31.16 Reply
  2. Hattie wrote:

    argh, I feel your (aching and miserable) pain. Flu is the effing pits without kids. When you have kids it’s the armpits on the Underground of the man with personal care issues. I’m on the other side.. (not that other side, I didn’t die, I got through it) and now I feel AMAZING. I’m doing the school run and not aching, and cooking everyone’s dinner, and not aching. And it’s so frickin peachy. Won’t be long till you’re here and feeling indestructible again. Lots of lemsip and call on anyone you can. Get well soon x

    Posted 1.28.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thanks Hattie! I’m just about joining you on the other side – the healthy side, not the dead side – and you’re right, it feels so freaking spectacular! I’m even wearing MAKEUP today!! x

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  3. Joanna Frangos wrote:

    Dear sweet Alice
    I know exactly what you are talking about. For me, when I am ill, I feel so vulnerable and probably about aged 4. I want someone to smooth my forehead, read me stories or tuck me up on the sofa with a blankie and a hot ribena…. (err maybe switch the Ribena for a camomile tea). Someone who can handle the everyday stuff for a while like putting the bins out and feeding the children. Bless you and hope that you feel better very soon. In the meantime get as much “poorly me-time” as you can.

    Posted 1.29.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Yes! This is exactly it!! After a weekend with poorly me time (the children were with their dad and I left the house a grand total of once, to get the papers) I am almost feeling human again. Thank you so much for the lovely wishes xx

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply