Back to the beginning

HWIOO is sound asleep.  He washed the car this morning and it rather took its toll along with eating all the wrong food at Christmas and not following the usual routine.  It seems odd that we are now into the third year of Chronic Fatigue.

It all began with a virus.  I can even remember when it started.  My friend Hattie and I went to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.  Neither of our husbands fancied coming with us for some strange reason. The only men you see at these events tend to wear long suffering expressions, eye their watches surreptitiously and occasionally look as though they would like to bolt for the door but realise they wouldn’t be able to force their way through the crowds of craft maddened ladies in search of a bargain and new wools, fabrics, buttons, felt, silks, threads etc…

Hattie drove and when we got home HWIOO picked me up from her house which gave me an opportunity to try and squash my haul into one carrier bag before he arrived.  He couldn’t be persuaded to stay for a cup of coffee because he thought he was coming down with something because he ached all over and felt incredibly tired. “You’ve been pushing yourself too hard all this term,”  Hattie told him.  “If you’re not well you should take some time off.”

“I told him that.”  I grumbled.

“Its Ofsted next week.  I’ll take it steady this weekend.”

As it turned out HWIOO wasn’t far wrong – he wasn’t coming down with something though- it had arrived weeks if not months ago and was just settling in for the duration.  By the time Ofsted went away again he was feeling very groggy – so groggy in fact that I received a phone call from Hattie, “Are you picking HWIOO up to this evening?”

“Yes.”  I glanced at my watch.  It was only four o’clock.

“Could you come and get him now.  Only he’s walking into walls and the furniture.”

We both thought that the heavy cold/virus had gone to his ears and triggered his labyrinthitis.  Unfortunately this was what he told the doctor who then proceeded to treat him for dodgy ears and tell him that he had a virus and that antibiotics wouldn’t work.  By the time Christmas came round he was sleeping for hours and hours but not waking up feeling any more refreshed.  He was starting to feel less dizzy but his spatial awareness was all over the place.

In fact it was three Christmases ago that HWIOO managed to set fire to himself over the Christmas dinner.  There were candles on the table.  My brother had a confetti cannon he set off after the meal and HWIOO helpfully leaned over to cover my sister-in-law’s wine glass so that it didn’t fill with glitter.

“I can smell something burning.”

“Can you?”

“It’ll be the confetti canon,” my brother announced confidently.

“Something’s definitely burning.”  Caitlin wrinkled her nose. “You don’t think that some of that confetti’s caught fire do you?”

“We all looked around us.  By now the smell of burning was getting stronger.

“You’re on fire!”  I finally screeched. These things tend to happen if you put your arm directly over a lit candle and leave it there. Well to be fair, HWIOO wasn’t well and truly alight but his best and most favourite jumper was smouldering nicely with little blue flames starting to lick around the edges of an increasingly large and blackened hole.  There’s a lot to be said for natural fibres not least their fire retardant quality.

We all stared at HWIOO’s arm.  At which point I squawked again, grabbed my spouse and patted him out.  The smell of burned wool isn’t so great but its better than the smell of scorched husband.  Amazingly it was only the jumper which was damaged.

Later we told the Number One Son what had happened.  “Didn’t you drop and roll Dad?” he said laughing down the phone.

Strangely, I’ve noticed, that during the last three years no one ever puts lit candles on the table when HWIOO visits.  I can’t imagine why.

Anyway, home we came but HWIOO felt no better.  He was still walking into walls and if anything he felt even more tired. He was sleeping for longer and longer.  “It’s like being married to Rip Van Winkle,” I complained one day when I found myself on the wrong side of the front door without the key when I arrived home from work.  It took me half an hour to attract his attention by which time I’d realised that either our home is pretty secure or I wouldn’t make much of a burglar.

By the second week in January we were both becoming much more worried that this wasn’t labyrnthitis and it certainly wasn’t the kind of tiredness that happens when you get a virus or the flu – not that the various GPs HWIOO seemed unduly concerned when he went to the Doctors again and again and again.  What we didn’t realise was that it would take several more months to get a diagnosis and that our lives were about to be changed forever.

These days I don’t go anywhere without my door key which has comedy elements all of its own because I have a deep handbag with many compartments and the front door key is very small.  This evening for instance I had to empty its entire contents on the doormat before I found the little blighter.  I couldn’t help thinking of my friend Teddy as I scrabbled around on all fours occasionally waving my hand manically to make the security light come back on.  She’d modelled her brand new handbag earlier in the afternoon.  As well as being capacious and with many pockets in which to loose pens, keys, lists and the kitchen sink it came complete with a leather strap on which to tether your keys.


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