Last person standing

Everyone in the house has come down with a bad cold, except me…so far.

Sickness at work


Everyone is sick and I am the last person standing – or slumping. My partner has been coughing for days and is looking very sorry for himself. He got the cold off only son who was off most of last week, even though I was always brought up to consider a cold is not sufficient to get you a day off school. Every day I would go into his room and offer him a cup of tea and tell him to try some before he attempted to describe how ill he was.

Clearly, the first moment of waking up with a cold is usually the worst one. You generally feel horrendous. Your throat is dry and sore; you are bunged up; you don’t want to even open your eyes to see the light of day, let alone contemplate double PE. Ten minutes after you have got up, got dressed and sipped some tea, however, you tend to be feeling more human and, if not ready to face the day, at least able to stand up for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Only son could not even get to the tea sipping moment. He is generally very concerned about his wellbeing. If he has a scratch he brandishes it as if it is a death sentence. A cold is something of a different order. Only son could not, he said, even begin to drag himself out of bed, although about an hour later he was complaining of being bored and raiding the fridge every five minutes.

There is no way you can ignore the fact that only son has a cold. He sits in a cloud of tissues, sniffling heavily and groaning. Goodness knows what he would be like if he got the flu, but I was very aware of the fact that taking several days off would prompt a letter from school along the lines of him falling short of his required attendance percentage, with a chart showing in detail how this would impact his GCSEs and his potential lifetime earnings. He is 12. Nevertheless, it is very hard to force a person who is rasping and croaking and describing their symptoms in miniscule detail into school.

By Friday, however, with the prospect of the weekend looming, he was back at school, but my partner and daughter three were looking grim, zonked in front of the tv. By Tuesday my partner was not sleeping due to endless coughing. I was on a work call when the phone rang. It was daughter three. “Please come and get me. I feel really ill,” she sobbed. It’s just a cold, I thought, but maybe we haven’t had many in the last few years, although we have had Covid twice.

Perhaps everyone’s defences are low at the moment. The world is a gloomy, gloomy place. Best to hide under a duvet with a cup of tea. Daughter three came home and installed herself on the sofa with a film. I could feel my throat tightening and started coughing. Naturally, I’ve got a really busy week this week and the weekend is rammed. There is no time to have a cold. Plus I’m the last one standing, unless you count only son and I’m not hugely confident he would be able to look after everyone unless they wanted to play Splatoon on a loop. So it’s a question of mind over matter and on we go.

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