There's a saying; if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it must be a duck. It makes sense, but equally, Sherlock Holmes will tell you that once you've exhausted all the logical explanations whatever is left has to be considered.
My friend Will made the suggestion last week, when I was feeling like five day old shit, that I probably had flu. You see, it looked like flu, sounded like flu and despite my protestations that it was possibly withdrawal symptoms, he argued, logically, that most people get one or two side effects from dodgy drugs, not an entire arm full. However, after seeing my (new) doctor, she said that what I had experienced was undoubtedly withdrawal and that morphine-based drugs can have varying affects on people.
By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling pretty good, in a relative way. I was happy that I'd got most, if not all, of those nasty painkiller drugs out of my system. Yes, I still felt a bit dodgy, but nowhere near as bad as I had done over the weekend and on Monday. In fact, Monday was so bad that I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die.
However, by Wednesday evening things took a turn for the worse. Except this time I wasn't alone. The wife was feeling exactly the same as me and as she had not taken any of the devil's Oxycodone, we had to presume that whatever was wrong was now something new. I have been told off for being a miserable git just recently, so I wasn't about to make things worse by pontificating about an almost continuous run of ill health; although it certainly feels that way. The doctor told me that a mixture of repetitive boredom, pain and lifestyle is enough to bring a person down and make them feel like they're catching every bad thing possible; but when the wife started feeling crappy it sort of pooh-poohed that idea.
It seems that we might have eaten something that didn't agree with us. A Tesco cheese and potato lattice pie, which was (I was told) very nice, but seemed to have adverse affects on both of us. It probably didn't give us food poisoning, but upset our stomachs enough to make us both feel like pooh. It seemed to have more lasting effects on me than it did on her and it seems to have exacerbated my inability to taste anything. Since Wednesday, I also seem to have rediscovered heartburn and indigestion, which appeared to have deserted me completely during the first 25 days of stopping smoking.
Speaking of taste, as I mentioned it briefly recently. I didn't ask my doctor why the hell I seem to have lost my sense of taste over the last few weeks. I mean, I could taste thing perfectly (well, as perfectly as I believed) before I packed up smoking and now it seems that I can't taste bugger all*. Or, to be more specific, everything tastes the same, unless it's got a lot of salt in it. I even got to the stage where I decided, after not finding anything on the net that helped, to go to Yahoo Answers to see if anyone on there had any bright ideas. To date, the only answer I've got is that years of smoking have permanently damaged by receptors to the brain and its unlikely to get better - which, I could understand if I had no sense of taste before I packed up smoking.
I'm hoping that its a mixture of change of lifestyle and the last knockings of the withdrawal. There is a school of thought amongst experts that when you stop smoking your body undergoes a huge battle, which involves repairing itself as well as struggling to cope with the sudden change in its usual routine. Which, if you think about it makes some sense. After all, some of the well known things that happen after quitting include a quick return of your sense of smell, massive appetite surges, insomnia and a change in your digestive reactions (or as a friend once said to me, quite disgustingly - your shit starts to stink again!). So, there might be things that happen to individuals rather than en mass. Or I might just be clutching at straws and I'm never going to appreciate the taste of anything ever again...
Two paragraphs above I put an * at the end of the second sentence; the reason for this is that I'm pretty sure that my lack of taste buds has happened since I started taking the Oxycodone, although if you look at the side effects of that drug, losing your sense of taste doesn't feature at all. However, some extensive research on Google suggests that some peoples' taste buds are affected by Oxycodone; it's rare, but then again so is experiencing a shedload of side effects.
The upshot of all of this is that while I am now two weeks away from my proposed return to work; I can't see that happening the way I feel. On top of the feeling crappy, indigestion and general malaise; I also have what appears to be a problem with the muscles and tendons in my left leg - caused by inactivity. I can't actually straighten my left leg and if I try to it feels like someone is tugging the tendons like a double bass. I also have very little balance on it - this was perfectly highlighted by my doctor when she got me to stand on one leg. I almost fell over! Which is why I've been using a walking stick most of the time.
I also drove my car for the first time in ages on Tuesday evening. The wife was struggling to park because there were no obvious parking spots and I took over the chore. Using the clutch seemed to aggravate the tendon problem and by Wednesday morning all the optimism I had about my aches and pains subsiding had disappeared, again...
I tell you, I am getting fed up with all this doom and gloom. I am getting pissed off with feeling shitty. I am getting incredibly self aware that all I ever seem to do is whinge and moan about feeling bad. I am also beginning to wonder if I might have something more serious wrong - the irony hasn't escaped me that I might end up with a really bad problem shortly after stopping smoking. I am also aware that when you do something like slip a disc or have a debilitating problem it does have an equally debilitating effect on your entire mind and body - its why people who suffer from severe depression are actively encouraged to get out of the house, go for walks, do things they wouldn't normally have the time to do and the last month has been difficult for me to do any of these things because of the constant pain.
I am also aware that writing about it has helped; which is why I still do it. The reality of this blog is that I get a kick out of the fact that a lot of people read it and the precious attention seeker inside me feels that its maybe self-defeating to have built up a following both through the blog and Facebook and then potentially put them all off by constantly telling them what an unlucky bugger I am, especially in light of the fact that we all have our own axes to grind and we all live in a world where reading about someone else's misery doesn't exactly inspire us. But, I don't think I'm searching for sympathy; I look at this as a diary; the same way John Diamond or Deborah Orr used or use their newspaper columns to talk about their cancers; or a guy called Greg, whose blog I found a couple of years ago, who basically blogged about what life was like after losing his arm and then 6 months later his wife; because she couldn't cope with his massive lifestyle change - so she left him. It made pretty depressing reading at times, but never once did he ever seem like he felt sorry for himself and I hope that I don't come across like that - even on the darkest days. But, yeah, as far as I know, having a back problem isn't life threatening; it doesn't compare to facing death every day; even if it has countless wrinkles that transpire to fuck me off and make my life feel like a chore sometimes...
Have I mentioned that I still hate this keyboard? Despite all the thousands of words I've written over the last few months, it hasn't gotten any easier to use. At some point, I may just leave an entire paragraph without going back to take out the typos, just so you can see how bloody frustrating it is.
Next time, I promise I'll have something to say and it'll be positive with maybe a joke or two thrown in, just to prove that I'm not the world's most miserable and self-centred arsehole!