Old friends are always welcome, aren't they? You open the door, plump up the cushions, make them a nice cup of tea. Then you sit together, catching up on all the small changes since you last met, and maybe a few bigger ones, until it's time to either make more tea or open a bottle of wine.
We ought to cherish these long-standing links with our younger selves. Make more time to spend with the acquaintances who helped to turn us into the people we are today.
So, rather than railing and whining at the re-appearance of my old mate Black Lung, I am simply nodding casually at it, wrapping myself in many warm scarves and drinking a lot of water. In between coughing till my eyes dry up and weeping uncontrollably.
Frankly, among the shite events of the last few days, a recurring chest infection feels somehow comforting and familiar.
I was at home on Wednesday, working away in my little study upstairs, a loaf of bread baking in the bread machine. I planned to pop over to the nursing home that evening to see Father-in-Law WithaY, what with Mr WithaY being away and all, and he does like nice home-made bread for his breakfast toast.
Anyhoo, the phone rang and I let it click over to the answerphone as I was in the middle of some work stuff. It was the matron of the nursing home, ringing to tell me that F-in-L WithaY had "had a bit of a fall" and wasn't feeling too great. A bit of a fall? He can only move one arm, very slightly. How the flaming bojangles did he manage to "fall"?
Her message went on to say that the "fall" had in fact been as a result of her lifting his legs up to put them on a footstool, as he sat in his wheelchair. Fuck's sake. I'm no engineer but I understand the concept of leverage. Fulcrums. Wheels. Lift one end, the other will go down. Look at a seesaw.
I got in the car and went straight over there in a panic, to find F-in-L in bed, in a lot of pain, shocked and distressed. Well, you would be if you'd been tipped over backwards onto your head, wouldn't you? I spoke to the nursing sister on duty, who was helpful and reassuring, asking what the doctor had said. Turned out that the doctor hadn't actually been out - they'd spoken on the phone. I queried that, and hey presto, ten minutes later the doctor arrived. The doctor was charming, careful and thorough, and said she would call an ambulance as F-in-Law needed to be x-rayed.
So, poor old F-in-Law was taken to Accident and Emergency at Salisbury, apparently was seen several hours later, and was sent back to the nursing home at 1am. No bones broken, thankfully.
However, each time I went to see him over the next few days he was still in a lot of pain. This culminated at 2.30am on Saturday morning when the nursing home called us at home to tell us that he had been taken back to the hospital. The nursing sister (a different one) apparently sounded a bit panicky when she rang us, despite F-in-Law having expressly asked her to leave it till the morning to call us. After a phone call like that in the wee small hours, you don't get back to sleep, do you? So we lay awake, wondering what the new emergency was, and Mr WithaY rang the hospital an hour or so later.
Without going into too much intimate detail, it was nothing too terrible, but we didn't find this out for a day and a half, in which time he'd had a CT scan and been poked and prodded about by pretty much everyone in the hospital, it seems.
The Bank Holiday weekend has been a merry-go-round of rain, cold, trips to the nursing home, then the hospital, interspersed with me coughing alarmingly.
Tomorrow I am going to make an emergency appointment with the doctor, because I am buggered if I am going to have another 8-week bout of bronchitis. I don't think I ever really shifted it properly from the last time. I've been coughing on and off since February, although not as badly as I was over the Christmas holiday. No blood-speckled lace hankies as yet.
I'd say it was a pain in the arse, but so far my arse is unharmed.