Hot, cold, coughing, sleepless, thirsty, nauseous, hot, cold, coughing, sleepless, nauseous. Aches and pains, and my lungs hurt. Day 3 and counting. Cough... feeble cough....
I think I have A Virus. Yes, that's all. I know it should be something more impressive.
I've always been sufficiently self-aware to know that I must never ever own a medical dictionary, or indeed, be allowed access to one. I'd just have every disease and ailment listed therein, perhaps in multiples of three or four, and never just A Virus, that handy catch-all, too ordinary to even have an important-sounding Latin name.
I don't have a thermometer either. It's so easy to tell when you have a raised temperature, so why find out by how much? Too alarming by half, and the risk of compulsive ambulance-calling is too great.
This disciplined approach to imaginary illness has stood me in good stead over the years. Apart from a terrifying bout of viral labyrinthitis, which made me believe I really was about to die, my occasional illnesses have remained reassuringly commonplace, save in my wakeful 3 a.m. moments of dread: flu, colds and coughs. Nothing dramatic. I have a well-stocked medicine cabinet and a ready supply of self-sympathy.
But now we have computers instead of medical dictionaries. And Google. So much scary information out there! So many dreadful diseases that are almost matched by my symptoms! I daren't look!
I would become a cyberchondriac.
No point in going to my lovely doctor. I know she would tell me gently that it's A Virus, and will go away of its own accord.
She also knows that if it wasn't A Virus and she offered me medication, I would a) resist, in that irritating way of the Worried Well who don't get enough attention, b) worry about the side effects, until c) I became that pain in the neck patient, the Non-Compliant one, who goes away and gets better anyway.
It's not easy, you know, shifting from being Worried Well to Irrationally Ill..... cough.... feeble cough....