Stage 1: That foreboding sense (a slight ache, a buzz behind you eyes, an irritation in the nose) that you’re going downhill, which you try to nick with optimism that resting, vitamins, hot soup, steam inhalation, anything anything anything, will stave it off.

Stage 2: You wake you with a proper body ache and the intimations of fever but decide to pop a pill and ignore it. This is my new strategy because the first day is never the worst day and we need to ration the number of days we take off work.*

Stage 3: By evening, you are flagging. A proper fever has set in. Resignation to the fact that you are indeed properly ill.  You call in sick. Pay obligatory visit to the doc. Veg out in front of the TV, actually enjoying it a little bit.

Stage 4: Huh. You are still not better. Now the illness is getting old. You call in sick again. Panic slightly about “what if you need yet another day”. When you are not better by evening, you go through all the terrible things you might have and Google them to see if the symptoms match. Invariably they do.

Stage 5: You need another day off. If you’re lucky, it’s the weekend. If you’re not, you probably drag yourself in, high on pills, or make that dreaded call to your boss. Either way, you’re pretty sure that you’re never going to recover, and imagine yourself quarantined in hospital with all of Hong Kong in a panic (this is what living in Hong Kong does to one). You go back to the doctor. He tells you not to worry. You don’t believe him, or his new list of medication.

Stage 6: It seems like you’re a little bit better. But do you dare believe it?

Stage 7: You are better but now buzzed on antibiotics you still have to take. Walking up a short flight of stairs makes you feel faint.

But overall you are relieved that you don’t have some mortal illness, and just had the flu. Again.

*This particular aspect has made me see how violent and pointless work is. Why this unstated pressure to come in when you’re ill? It makes me see the appeal of quitting forever and retiring to a farm aka V.

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