I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to me that the moment I set foot on an airplane over the holiday period that I’m about to get sick.
I leave my flat each year in the highest of hopes. This year, I’d been feeling vaguely unwell but nothing too ominous. My body had – without my consent – been trying unsuccessfully to get sick for most of December. I’d been doing some preventative dosing with Vitamin C and Day/Night Nurse. I left Bristol with nary a sniffle.
Arriving in London for DecemberFunTimes, I immediately set about becoming exhausted: there were parties, nights out, afternoons out, and a dear friend who dragged herself out of bed with whooping cough. When my throat felt funny in that familiar way, I dosed myself up. The next day I felt recovered. I thought, rather foolishly in hindsight, that this year I’d managed to dodge the bullet.
As ever, I was dead wrong.
I rocked up to Heathrow as usual, and went through what is now routine: checked my bag in the usual chaos at the Air Canada desk. Went through security. Went directly to Leon for my bacon roll. Bought some magazines, and faffed about for a while, keeping an eye on the boads for my gate.
Honestly, it couldn’t have gone smoother. I arrived in Toronto, and with a bit of fiddling around and some terse phone calls, I found Other Brother who’d kindly agreed to pick me up. I wasn’t coughing, I didn’t even feel flush or feverish or funny.
The next day, The Mom and I went to the not-quite local Outlet Mall and I did some much needed shopping. I was buoyed with confidence that I’d avoided the traditional tin can of farts flu.
And then, the day after that, I felt funny. Like my feet were on wrong. And my elbows were sore. And my teeth. And my ears felt sharp and plugged up. The Mom took one look at me and sent me to bed.
We thought if I rested I’d be fine.
We were so very, very wrong.
I came down with a hideous cold or flu or maybe both. I was plugged up, I felt like I was living underwater. I was feverish. Shivering. Miserable.
The Mom and I both knew what was coming: if I was sick, she was likely to get sick too.
And then there was L’il Sis: who, due to her meds, was immune-suppressed. I don’t know if you’ve overtaken immunosuppressants but they’re not fun. If you get even a hint of an illness, you have to stop taking your meds, and even then it takes ages to get over your illness.
Surrounded by a sea of used tissues, shivering in my bathrobe, I screeched: “I am wearing a mask and gloves next year!”
The Mom recoiled, and generally kept her distance from me as we hoped my body would somehow get itself together and be okay for Christmas Dinner. I don’t think I fully recovered, but at least I was well enough to put pants on and present myself. Though, nobody wanted much to do with me.
The one good thing about all this is that I was sick at The Mom’s. There are many benefits to this, but the key ones are as follows: The Mom makes soup and heats it up and puts it in a bowl and then tidies up afterwards. When I’m sick with a cold or flu, this is normally too much for me. I have been known to shuffle out to M&S in search of soup, and only get as far as the shitty Tesco at the end of my road where I buy soup I don’t want to eat just because it’s the nearest thing.
Then there’s also this: at The Mom’s, there is what seems to me to be a near infinite supply of hot water. In the UK, in my flat, I have to put the hot water heating on and wait an hour before I can take a bath. At that point, I’ve usually fallen asleep or otherwise lost all interest in having a bath. But at The Mom’s you just put the tap on and there you are: hot water. It’s amazing. Truly.
And of course, as Dad the canary has been generally poorly and a bit old, he’s been living in the bathroom which also means I have cheery company during my baths.
I wouldn’t change the annual Christmas trip home for anything, but I tell you: next year I’m wearing a mask and bringing sanitiser with me everywhere I go.