The Universe, gods, karma and Beelzebub himself, must have conspired to do everything in their collective powers to stop me from attending the PMRGCAuk Member’s Day & AGM, in London, last Saturday!
A week prior to the event I developed a dry, raspy cough. I sounded like an old barking dog. It was unproductive, constant and extremely annoying. As the week progressed, my cough became more “chesty,” bothersome and a bit concerning. I had also developed laryngitis (much to my OH’s enjoyment) and for most of the day I sounded like Steven Tyler, if he had swallowed a large frog!
No worries… this shall pass.
During a quiet, nondescript dinner on Thursday night (just one sleep and one day before the big event) I was talking and eating at the same time, as you do (even though your Mother told you not to do it!) and I aspirated a small piece of lettuce! Or at least I thought I had! I was sure I felt a tiny piece of lettuce get sucked down my throat, past my esophagus and into my lung! I could not catch my breath and could not stop coughing!
Scary stuff… but surely, this too would pass and unless I died it would not keep me from Saturday’s event!
Thursday night’s sleep was a bit of a nightmare! I laid in bed sure there were poisonous, E. coli lettuce spores embedding themselves in the lining of my lung; and even though I coughed and coughed and coughed, I received no relief. It didn’t help that when I Googled, “What happens if I aspirate food into my lung?” one of the possible consequences listed was “infection and Death!” 💀
Hmmmm, maybe I wouldn’t make it on Saturday after all?
Feeling like crap on Friday morning, I made an appointment with the GP. When the receptionist asked why I needed to see the doctor, I responded that I thought I had “sucked a piece of lettuce into my lung!” “Oh… I see,” she said. “How about 10:30?”
The GP (whom I had never seen before) was charming, handsome and no older than 12! However, he had read my history before he called me back, and my “history,” had piqued his interest, I could tell!!!!
I explained that I had been plagued with this cough for about a week, but since the lettuce incident (aka Lettuce Gate) my cough, had been taken to a whole new level! He agreed to take a listen.
Him: “Breathe deeply.”
Me: Cough, cough, cough…
Me: Cough, cough, cough…
After several minutes and me almost hyperventilating, he was done. He concluded (with his years of experience and wisdom) that my lungs were “fine,” and he was “pretty sure” there no signs of E.coli or lettuce contamination.
Back home, a bit more relaxed, and with less that 24 before the big event, I received an email from Southern Train Services. Apparently there would be disruptions to all services to London Victoria. “Oh, no worries… I’m not going to Victoria! I’m going into to St Pancreas.” Not being one for pesky details, I didn’t read that teeny, tiny print that said; “All other London routes subject to changes.”
It was OH, who at about 9:30 Friday night, casually mentioned, “I think you have a train problem.”
“No! No… I do not have a train problem. I am not going to London Victoria! I DO NOT HAVE A TRAIN PROBLEM.”
“Ahhhhh… Ohhhhhhh… Hmmmm… No. I did not read that “all other routes are subject to change” part. *ahem* oh… thank you.
It was immediately determined that I would not be traveling to London by train; instead I would be going from Brighton to Three Bridges via a replacement BUS service. This meant my having to leave 35 minutes earlier than I had planned!
Sleep never came. I tossed and turned and slept for maybe 1 to 2 hours at a time, before waking up and rolling around for an hour or so… it was torture!
Up at 5:45, the taxi arrived at 7:00 and off we went… I had optimistically said to OH, the night before, that the only “saving grace,” would be that the bus would be empty because who the hell would be going to London at 7:30, on a Saturday morning?
Who the hell indeed!
Apparently, everybody and their mother was going to London!
Without thinking things through (…not typical of me at all! Hahahahaha!) I jumped on the first bus I saw; unfortunately, I had not stopped to think there were numerous buses behind this one, I was in no hurry and I perhaps should have “spent a penny” before jumping on a crowded bus!
It was only once I was on the bus, and people had come on behind me, that I also realised, this bus was full to capacity, with standing room only!
Ahhhhh, but wait… what is that? The very last available seat on the bus and it was MINE! Unfortunately, it was only as I sat down, that I realised that the gentleman, who already occupied the window seat, was unusually large, and that only one half of my own (not so small) derrière would actually fit on the seat.
Soooo, I spent the next 50 minutes, with only one of my butt cheeks actually making contact with the stained, thinly padded, bus seat; trying to balance myself, as the crowded bus careened around roundabouts and the driver saw the need to constantly test the brakes.
The train from Three Bridges to St Pancras was uneventful, with the exception of the fact that I had not yet “spent a penny,” and the whites of my eyes were now yellow!
I arrived at St P and made a beeline for the “Ladies!” However, it was right there, in the middle of this busy International station, swarming with people (as I raced against time and nature!) that I was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful, white-haired soul, who stood right in front of me and asked, “Are you Melissa?”
“Ummmm, yes… why yes, I am.”
I then noticed two other, equally prominent woman standing with her! Low and behold it was TELIAN! Aka, Terri. And her sister Norma and Mary63, aka Mary!
WOW! I was really here and it was really happening. Fantastic. …but ladies, I really gotta pee!
Several minutes later back at Fortnum and Mason, (with me feeling much more comfortable) Mary and I shared a coffee and had a good ol natter, while Terri and Norma explored the treasures of the station. They eventually returned and we were all joined by Bamber99, aka Susan.
It was like we had known each other forever! Like old friends who had done this a million times… We laughed and talked and joked and I for one could have stayed there all day! … but it was time to get moving.
Just as we were thinking about making tracks, a lovely figure appeared in the doorway. She had on a fabulous skirt, dotted with iconic images of the London skyline, a navy top amazing wavy, tousled hair and a beautiful smile! It was… SheffieldJane, aka Jane.
I have made many close, special friendships/acquaintances with a lot of people on this HealthUnlocked site; but Jane and I have really bonded. We have discovered so many similarities, and distinct parallels within our lives, that it’s a bit spooky and uncanny!
So with Jane’s perfectly timed arrival… our little circle was complete. We missed hooking up with Marymon aka Monica, Suet3942 aka Sue, Duddy999, aka Julia, Retailmonkey, aka Keith, Mark B, and a few others… but we were as complete as we could be and off we ventured to the day’s event.
More about that later….
In the end I was not stopped by he “lurgy,” Lettuce Gate, a bad night’s sleep, or a bus replacement service… I made it there and it was one of the best days I have had in a very long time.
I felt alive and relevant; informed and engaged. And even though we were there taking about all things related to PMR and/or GCA, I didn’t feel like a “sick” person and I didn’t feel “alone.”
I was part of something much bigger and much more important than either of these illnesses could ever be.