Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The black lung
The visions we entertain of ourselves are at best wistful, at worst a dangerous fiction.
My vision: rosy cheeked and glowing with health from my detox, I would make my way with startling speed along the fields and up the mountains of northern England’s Lake District.
Stopping to admire the scenery I would quote the region’s favourite son, William Wordsworth: “Which is the bliss of solitude/And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the Daffodils.”
Pastoral delights – sheep, squirrels, butterflies would accompany me – like children following the Pied Piper and the air would be scented with mountain dew and wildflowers.
I would return to London like Heidi’s pal Clara coming back from the mountains: restored, vital, healthy, glowing and alive.
Instead I have come back half dead, suffering from what I believe to be consumption.
(Readers: revolting ‘too much detail’ warning….) This morning (as I have most mornings on the mountains) I coughed up blood. At night I lie awake, body wracked with a hacking cough that makes me appear as if I am in the throes of an exorcism, trying to expel Satan himself from my lungs.
I emerge feebly to the horrid, damp communal dining rooms of country B and Bs and try not to gag as yet another plate of bacon and eggs and black pudding is put before me.
Against the grimy window panes it rains and rains. Inside my lungs black stuff ferments then congeals.
Other residents of these wretched B and Bs shun me as the sound of my nocturnal hacking, splutterings, spitting and throat-clearings have obviously penetrated the thin walls.
Is it an elderly dying man: they may have asked themselves at 4 am? Shall we call an ambulance? Is it a dog whose voice-box has been partially torn out? Shall we call animal welfare?
No, it is moi: consumptive, delirious from fatigue, damp of lung, full of good intentions to walk in the Lake District but destroyed by those very intentions when the walking involved setting out in a grey swirly gale, with the wrong clothes on.
My travelling companions, hardier than I of lung, have grown weary of my morning dissections of the increasingly frightening appearance of my phlegm. As a consequence, I breakfast alone. Just me and my black lung and scrapped and bloody throat and a dozen abandoned black puddings.
Ahh a health blog. Since taking this three month assignment on my health has declined to its present low level.
In my weakened state I do not have the energy to contemplate my next health challenge. But I have a month – a month to turn it all around.
ABOUT THIS BLOGWelcome to the diary of a reluctant exerciser. Having previously shunned fitness regimes in favour of bacon sandwiches, Brigid Delaney vows to finally shape up, get fit and eat more healthily. Over the next three months read how she gets on in a brave new world of gyms, exercise classes and no bacon sandwiches.