Thank God it's Friday.
I've spent all week in bed, alternately vomiting, writhing in pain or peering back at the world through an opiate haze. Friends have taken my 6 year old to school, other friends have picked him up for me. His homework hasn't been done for two weeks. My Mum has spent all but one day at my house looking after me and my toddler (not to mention my 88 year old Dad who's almost totally immobile now.) My husband has jigged his work around to breaking point - yesterday he just couldn't come home early and I had to cook spaghetti bolognese while running to the loo every ten minutes or so to be sick. In the end I gave up and gave myself an injection (opiates and anti-sickness drugs) - something I hate to do when I'm alone with one of the boys.
A chronic illness is like a staircase that you just keep climbing up and down forever.
After surgery, all cleaned out and zipped back up, I thrive. I put on weight, I notice the chasm where the pain used to be almost every waking moment. I have a little more energy, can eat with a little less caution, my mood lifts, oh so slowly and I enjoy the clear fresh mind of an opiate free day.
One by one though, I start to step back down the staircase - one step at a time, each step a defeat.
A niggle of pain here and there. Step
A bit queasy after Sunday lunch. Step
A few pound lighter. Step
Pain all day. Step
Can't eat. Step
Weight falls again.
Pain every day. Step
Can't get out of bed. Step
Yesterday, I took one of the steps I always find the saddest in the whole cycle. I had to switch from having most of my medications orally to having them by injection. My bowel is just too sulky at this stage to absorb enough for the meds to have any effect.
Eau de Junkie starts to waft through our house. Packets of needles and syringes, hidden on high shelves out of the way of the kids. Hiding in the bathroom so they don't see the needles or the blood. Sore bruised legs, stiff and inflamed from constant punctures, trying to read a story, my mind addled with cotton-wool highs, trying not to read the same sentence more than once.
My two year old endlessly comes to the side of my bed, pushes his little face right up to mine, his enormous blue eyes wide "R'you fine Mummy?" He asks, over and over, willing it to be true. Last time Mummy spent too much time in bed, she disappeared for five weeks and he didn't see her. "I'm fine sweetheart" I reply, with much more confidence than I feel. Happy, he skips away, only to come back a few minutes later, his face all concern, "R'you fine Mummy?
The 6 year old plays up. He knows more of what is to come. He alternates wildly between taking on Daddy's role when he's out at work - tucking me up in blankets, getting me drinks, looking after his baby brother and pushing his luck - answering back, ignoring me - desperately trying to irritate me out of my troubles.
Despite all of this, you might just see me, pushing a trolley around the supermarket or taking the kids to the park. There might be days when I put on some make-up, push my shoulders back and look quite normal. I park with my disabled badge and see the disapproving looks of the local retirement-squad.
I could be your neighbour, or your work colleague or your teacher.
And you might never know.