Illness. It’s that time of year again for illness. I am lying in bed as I write this and my head feels like it is full. Full to the brim with mucus and dullness. I have felt like this for about a week and like most people I struggled into work like a foolish martyr, until I realised that I wasn’t actually getting any better and it was time to stop.
So now here I am in that weird place that is ‘the day off sick’. When you have a cold or flu or whatever you want to call it; when you cough and splutter and you are bunged up inside and your head constantly aches – it is a strange place to be. Like some kind of parallel world almost.
Firstly my head feels like it is too full. Like the acres of mucus being produced endlessly by my bodies’ defence mechanisms is squashing my brain into an ever smaller space. My brain the size of a walnut, like a dinosaur. I make no apologies for my graphic description here, the quantities of phlegm and snot produced are astounding. I do often wonder what the purpose of all that is? Is it simply to make the experience even more unpleasant? Who’s idea was that?
This feeling of having ones head filled and the brain squashed has another strange effect. It can almost be like you are viewing the world the wrong way through a telescope. Everything is distant. Yesterday people were talking to me in a crowded room and I couldn’t for the life of me hear what they were saying properly. My ears were full. Well no, it wasn’t exactly like that, it felt like my ears were too far away from my brain and the sound travelling from them was taking too long to register.
It made me wish I wasn’t so rubbish at lip reading. In my job I encounter some amazing deaf students and their abilities at lip reading and signing are both wonderful and ordinary. I am jealous of their abilities but also at the same time thankful that such abilities become part of ordinary everyday life. For example it becomes habit for me to look at them when I speak. I don’t really like the word ‘disability’; it should just be different abilities.
Anyway, I digress. The weird feelings that this cold/flu thing have induced in me have made me wonder. It got to a point yesterday, when I was ridiculously struggling to carry on working, where I actually began to wonder if I was really there. It was like my body was there, present in the room, but my mind was drifting away somewhere else. If I tried to tackle a complex task (or even a simple one!) my mind wouldn’t let me, I couldn’t focus, as if my mind was saying ‘I am too far away to bother worrying about that!’. It was most odd.
It makes me think about the connection between the ‘mind’ and the body or the brain. Yes I know that doctors and scientists can hook people up to scanners and plot which parts of the brain ‘light up’ when we think or feel certain things. Or listen to music, or whatever. But we still don’t know how the two are connected. And maybe the two aren’t separate anyway, maybe there isn’t a dualism between the mind and brain. Perhaps the physical and the ethereal thinking part are one? If that were true then when the physical ceases then the thinking ceases. I am not a religious man but I like to think sometimes that the thinking ‘mind’ might actually be separate and continue after death. Like a ‘soul’, for want of a better word. Where and how that could be true I do not know.
Of course this is just speculation, as it always is. I do know than when I was privileged enough to be present at someone’s death I did ‘feel’ something, some kind of separation if you will. A moment when the physical is changed and no longer contains life.
So, back to my petty illness. I am not complaining (I know some of you out there might be thinking that I am whining – typical bloke with ‘man-flu’ I hear some of you cry!). In a way I am enjoying the odd ‘out of body’ experience it gives me. Maybe, just maybe, my mind will drift so far as to be in a parallel world…That certainly would make a great story!
As ever any comments or thoughts are welcome. Me, I am going to drink tea today and lie in bed…waiting…
© 2012 Simon Poore