I’ve been physically quite unwell for a few days, but I’m getting better. That’s the short version.
I’ll understand if you leave it with the short version and move on to other things. The long version that follows is my gradually recovering brain pondering on what my feverish brain invented while I was sick, and I make no claims that it’s a work of stunning insight or perception!
Somewhere between Friday night and Saturday morning I stated being sick. My doctor says it was definitely “a bug” which I feel doesn’t really describe the full horror of the experience. Physically it was like a full body migraine. Everything hurt, everything from scalp and skull right down to toenails. The slightest movement set off another bout of retching, even after I’d brought up everything possible. I felt very cold, although I’m told I was anything but. My senses were ridiculously heightened, the smallest noise was torture and our older, smellier dog had to be banished to the other room because she made me feel so sick!
Somewhere in the blur that is Saturday/Sunday/Monday some unknown combination of fever, dehydration, lack of food and the sudden stopping of medication you absolutely must wean yourself off or face dire consequences caused me to start hallucinating.
I’ve never gone in for hallucinogens. Zammo told me “Just Say No” to drugs at an impressionable age, and I took it to heart (and possibly also bought the single. Or at least recorded it off the radio onto cassette, clipped to cut off the DJ, which was the nearest I got back then to buying singles).
It’s not that I had a completely unadventurous youth, but by the time I had discovered sex and rock ‘n’ roll I found I didn’t have time to bother much about drugs too. And the loss of control thing terrifies me.
I remember a trusted friend once offering me Es at a nightclub in my dim and distant past. “It’s great” he said. “You’ll want to hug everyone here.” I looked at the sweaty masses of early 90s grungers and thoughtfully replied “Over my dead body.” The idea of voluntarily taking something to make me act so out of character was unfathomable to me.
So my rare experiences of hallucinations have all been fever based. I think they’re hallucinations. I’m not entirely sure where you draw the line between incredibly vivid fever dreams and actual hallucinations. Perhaps a medical person could explain, but I’m never really in a fit state to discuss the finer points of definitions when it happens.
Anyway, while my body was in agony my brain was creating incredible feats of imagination, all nonsensical in retrospect, but seeming very real at the time:
There were the moon moths, whose breeding habits and feeding patterns I’d apparently studied for years (and should I ever write a sci-fi novel they’re going in).
There was balancing over a cavern system that housed three of the rarest bee species in the world, although only two of them actually made prize winning honey, so we don’t speak about the third.
There was the silver cup on a delicate silver chain that I used to get the honey and I swear was on my bedside table for hours afterwards until the dog knocked it down (I own no silverware and by this point the dog was banished – see above).
There was a really compelling reason why I had to lie with one foot on the other knee, and something terrible would happen if I didn’t.
There was a new social order with four strands based on selecting a random tile, but it kept going wrong and society had to be rebooted, which meant a party being chosen to make the long, dangerous trek to the on/off switch on the other side of the gnarly lands.
When my partner told me the doctor was on the phone I was genuinely confused, having just spoken to a doctor, although at the time I did feel it was unprofessional for him to be calling from the squash court (the fact I could see him while on the phone didn’t arouse my suspicion at all).
These are just glimmers of the ones I remember. There were unrelenting hours of this stuff, punctuated only by dashes to the bathroom to be sick.
By Monday evening the medicine my real, non-squash court doctor had prescribed was kicking in and I was able to keep some fluids down and have snatches of sensible conversation. Tuesday I managed to eat a little, and sleep without dreaming.
I’m still achey and wobbly, with a slightly elevated temperature, but I’m sure I’m on the mend. I’m appreciative of my brain for providing a distraction from my body when my body was feeling crap, and I’m accepting that I’m not going to find some complex hidden meaning in the weird journeys it took me on. I wish I could harness even a tenth of that creative capacity when I’m not ill though.