So that was a curious Christmas and probably the first completely sober Christmas Day that I have had for the best part of the last 35 years.
I should probably start by saying ‘thank you’ to the doctors and nurses who were working in the walk in centre in Arrowe Park and so were able to see me on Christmas Day and prescribe me the antibiotics I needed to keep me a few steps further from death’s door than I might otherwise have been.
It was surprisingly quiet up there.
I guess most people feeling ill were staying at home in the hope that a further 24 hours would see them through. I had been of that camp until around midday when I attempted to shuck an oyster and found myself shaking so much there was greater chance of me removing a finger than the oyster being shucked. A GP friend was duly consulted by way of telephone. He was able to supply a medical name to the shakes (‘the rigors’). Apparently these combined with the periodic hot flushes I was also coming down with were signs that a serious infection was about to be unleashed somewhere inside me.
So off to Arrowe Park we went.
There was some initial confusion on being called for the nurse. There were only three people sat waiting to see someone but it transpired that at least two of them were called Ralph. So when my name was called I found myself in competition with a three year old and his anxious parents. The confusion was sorted and the three year old was sent back to sit down.
The nurse took a long list of details, gave me a small plastic container for ‘a sample’ and suggested that it would be another few hours before I would be able to see a doctor but in the meantime the most important thing was that I produce ‘a sample’.
Unfortunately I did not feel in any desperate need to produce a sample so I positioned myself next to the water dispenser and drank my way through about three pints of water. There was still no stirrings of a sample but I was called back to see the nurse. A doctor could see me later that afternoon. In the meantime there was no reason why I could not go home but I would have to come back with the sample.
So we went home for an hour or so to watch some more presents being opened.
We were back there at 5.00 having left instructions at home for the final preparations of the food so it would be ready by the time we were back.
I saw the doctor. There was more confusion. He was hard of hearing and I was not speaking clearly. So when I explained that I had suffered from a urinary infection before Christmas he expressed some surprise that I should be there on Christmas Day for an ear infection.
Confusion cleared up he tested the sample and duly prescribed more water and the necessary antibiotics and we were back out after only half an hour.
At home they had not been able to wait any longer for food and a large part of Christmas dinner had been eaten by the time we got back.
I had a roast potato and a slice of the capon by which time I was ready for bed.
So Christmas passed in a blur of sobriety and the slightly hallucinogenic effect of whatever infection was passing through me.
In the meantime we did a few walks, I made a particularly good bolognese sauce and there was a general sense of relaxation.