It looks quite masonic

When I extend my left leg down the ladder in the morning I get an extraordinary cramping pain shooting up the calf. It takes me several minutes to get round the bathroom and to the kitchen. Is this related to the flu? Can one get flu in one’s leg?

The phrases that pass my lips are somewhat stronger than those I invoked on Tuesday.

Janette and Bean have sent an e-card, which cheers me up no end.

I open the present that arrived from my sister: it is a Swiss Army Knife, specifically a model called The Motorist (which my sister admits is ironic) that appears not to be on the website. The ultimate Swiss Army Knife appears to be the SwissChamp XLT. On the European website this is described as being “for collectors”, whereas on the American site it’s called “The new standard for ultimate preparedness”. That may be the difference between us and them – they can’t actually imagine a European carrying one of those things around.

The fact that I’m now the possessor of a Swiss Army Knife gives me a tremendous thrill. Every practical person I’ve ever known has owned one and perhaps this marks my departure into practicality.

I drink a lemsip and go back to bed, dipping in and out of consciousness until 10:30 when I call Dave to suggest that, since I am incapable of movement, I might not make it to the rehearsal this afternoon. Then lapse into unconsciousness.

Dave calls back and asks me about the leg, suggesting that it might be the sort of thing I ought to ask the doctor about. When I finally wake up, I do so, and she suggests that I go round to see her in an hour’s time.

I have a bath (I’ve divided my time over the last few days between sleeping and sweating and occasionally – what the hell, push the boat out – sweating in my sleep) and go down there, where I’m ushered straight through to the emergency doctor.

The general fear seems to have been that it was a blood clot, but on looking at my leg (I’ve rolled up both legs so that she can compare the diseased leg with the putatively healthy one. It looks quite masonic) she decides that it’s more likely an infection. She calls in a colleague who agrees. It may not have been flu after all, but the side effects of my immune system trying to combat the infection – the infection will have been there first, but hiding in the shadows and only making itself known after I was irrevocably ill. There’s a comparison with Senator Palpatine, but I’m not going to be the person to make it.

I take a prescription for antibiotics and make my way round to the chemist, which also seems to have been taken over by pleasant, chatty women. I’m not complaining, it’s just odd: in my usual brushes with the medical profession around here they’ve never been less than professional and helpful, not unpleasant, but definitely not chatty. It’s nice, and certainly improves the whole illness experience thing.

As she’s handing me my prescription, one of the women in the chemists, the Irish one, notices my date of birth and says “Happy Birthday”.

Yes, indeed.

I waddle home with my antibiotics and a pack of those toothpick things that look like cutlasses.

I don’t know whether it’s the diagnosis, the antibiotics, the bath or the chattiness, but I’m definitely feeling better, if not yet well.