Being weak is something that I am deeply uncomfortable with. As a child I was small for my age and my elder brother could be a little domineering - I know what it's like to be at the end of someone's temper and powerless to do anything about it. This, I believe, lies at the heart of my desire not to be physically weak. I have grown from that small child into what most people consider to be quite a large fellow. As a younger adult I have been strong, sporty and the kind of person people have looked to when a difficult/heavy/scary piece of work needed doing. Now as I fall down the spiral of time towards the big half century, some of my muscle has inexplicably become fat, despite a strict regimen of very little exercise.
The result has been that I have had to accept (not before time) that I am unlikely ever again to be the strongest guy in the room. Not the biggest deal in the world, I agree, but an adjustment nevertheless (as so often, it WAS the case). But I still don't like it.
All of this was irrelevant to me when I sat on the loo on Monday night for the first time that day, and thought nothing of it. Indeed, if I may say so, I had a surprisingly satisfying bowel movement (don't pull a face, you KNOW what I'm talking about). Happily I went downstairs to bed, anticipating a comfortable night's sleep. As I did so, however, I became aware that I was very suddenly feeling rather bloated. Nevertheless, with the characteristic stiff upper lip of my countrymen, I brushed aside the momentary discomfort and slid alluringly beneath the duvet next to my long-suffering wife. "My darling" I breathed sexily. "Yes, my love?" quoth she, not looking up from her iPod yet clearly anticipating a seductive, Shakespearean sonnet from her romantic, gorgeous mate.
"I've just had a very satisfying shit." I purred. Unruffled (she's used to me) she replied smoothly "Well that's nice, dear." There was a pause. Almost as soon as I had announced my important news, I'd felt an uncomfortable stirring in the depths. Rapidly, the sensation was building to an urgent 'enemy at the gates' kind of feeling. With all the grace of a leaping stag, I bounded from the bed. "What's the matter?" said my lovely lady reflexively, still emotionally engaged and engrossed in the BBC News page. "Fear not, fair maiden!" I cried, "I go to the garderobe once more!" (google 'garderobe' and assume the mediaeval meaning). Actually, that is gilding the lily somewhat; what I actually said was something along the lines of: "Bloody hell, I think I 'm going to shit myself!" as I scampered from the room, dressing gown billowing behind me like a superhero's cloak.
In the bathroom and with the extractor fan proactively switched on, I parked my not inconsiderable behind upon the toilet seat and un-clenched with the beginnings of an "aaah!" sound. In truth, I didn't get past the second letter 'a', as with the force of a tidal bore, a liquid stream of...matter...enthusiastically left my rectum, impacted the toilet water and kept going. Downstream of me, alarm lights flickered and began whirring, klaxons sounded and small children began crying for reasons that they were subsequently unable to explain to their parents. It was instinctive, you see. Instinct responding to the almost inaudible but definite ultra-sound rumble issuing forth from my trembling bowel. Animals rushed from the suburbs into the forest, and insects became quiescent upon the bark and branches of the silent, noble trees. The world held its breath, and braced.
Inside my bathroom, something not unlike a pitched battle between good and evil was in progress. Clinging on to the toilet seat in order to a) stop the splashing fluids from leaving the bowl and by association b) prevent me from being propelled into the ceiling drywall, I struggled with the might of a viral monster. Somewhere, an orchestra was playing 'The Ride of the Valkyries', which was surprising because I reckon that the bathroom is only big enough to hold four people. I suppose they may have been under the sink. Seemingly for hours I fought with the forces of darkness and stench; a titanic battle that, when it finally diminished, left me physically depleted and worried that so much matter had left my person that the top of my head might cave in.
Amazingly, the timer on the bathroom extractor fan informed me that a mere twenty minutes had passed. An abortive attempt to clean myself with toilet paper told me that a shower was my next step. As the warm water trickled down my face and body, the steam mingled with the scent of the soap, and I began to feel human once more. I had, after all, vanquished the bum beast. Several minutes later I tottered weakly back into the bedroom, and sat on the bed. "You took your time." said my beloved huskily, while she supportively played solitaire; "I was just beginning to think about whether or not I should start to wonder about being concerned.". I fought for breath in short gasps. "That" I said, "..was bloody horrible." She giggled seductively "Was it, love? Did the world drop out of your bottom?".
Despite the undeniably impressive level of loving empathy on offer, I was unable to respond appropriately and affectionately, gripped as I suddenly was by another spasm indicating that my most important sphincter was under siege from within. "Gotta go again!" I croaked as I exited the bedroom once more, this time dragging my unfortunate dressing gown behind me. I barely made it to the bathroom (still suffering the spectacularly odourous effects of my previous visit) before an upside-down fountain burst forth from my bottom and headed at startling speed towards the water treatment works some miles away.
My wife would subsequently tell me that after approximately fifteen minutes of further carefully monitoring my progress from another story of the building, she thought that she could hear the dog scratching himself (banging his leg on the floor as he does so). When the same sound filtered through her online meanderings a short time later, she rather huffily put down her electronic device and, pausing for a few minutes to wonder whether or not she really did like the colour that we had painted the walls in 2012, wandered along to the bathroom. Just as she did so, I was - doubled over in pain - feebly opening the door prior to desperately calling her name. Close to passing out and about to vomit, I was becoming alarmed at the genuine prospect of aspirating my own puke and being found an hour later. Mustering all my available strength, I had in the meantime been (pathetically, I admit) banging on the floor with my heel.
When my good lady entered the room in shining armour and on a white charger (which surprised me because I had not realized that the bathroom was big enough for a war horse), she was forced to fall back upon her nurse's training (we won't go into how long ago that was; I know where the lines are drawn) as she was faced with a scene reminiscent of a nineteenth century battlefield. Her once perfectly formed, chirpy (YES chirpy! Don't kick me when I'm down!) husband had morphed into a hunched, pale figure with brown dripping liquid all over his bottom, leaning over the toilet bowl, and just beginning his impressive retching sequence into what appeared to be a lot of oxtail or French onion soup - except that the prevalent the smell suggested otherwise. Clearly, there was work to be done.
Eight hours, three close-run passing out episodes and two showers later, I finally finished puking and shitting unbelievable quantities of what ultimately became almost clear water. My body got rid of a total of FIFTEEN pounds of liquid (between six and seven litres) in about seven hours. Norovirus sucks. I suppose you could say that it sucks ass - and face.
Today is Friday (just in case you're foolish enough not to be in my time zone) and I'm still crawling out of the hole (pardon that pun) that Norovirus dug for me. It could have been truly dangerous; were I living alone or simply on my own (and of course, as I am constantly reminded; with diabetes), it was severe enough to have been very serious indeed had I not been able to reach help. Wake-up call!
As it was, it was scary, disturbing (a reminder of one's physical fragility is always so, I find) and physically draining. I'm still not fully recovered: I'm weak (that thing which I hate), a little feverish an,d I tire easily, but I walked the dog this morning and am still in one piece. My body, battered and bruised (boy, do I feel bruised) is doing its thing; healing. My mind, now able to look back and smile (with the help of my truly wonderful, loving and supportive lady) is healed from the shock of what happened so suddenly. That's a good feeling. I'd like to keep it.