when he sang 'it's sad, it's sad, it's a sad sad situation', yes its that time of year again when the Lumie bright light comes out and I try to stave off the attacks of being an even more grumpy old man than usual. Mind you if our Reg (or Elton John as he prefers now) thinks sorry is the hardest word he clearly hasn't tried writing antidisestablishmentarianism. I'm not sure if I had seasonal affective disorder before I had viral meningitis because I can remember at least two Christmas holidays when I was hardly the life and soul of the party but certainly the diagnosis of SAD was made after I had a serious attack of VM in 2002. As I also have mild photophobia as one of the side effects of the attack which nearly killed me (so I don't like bright lights) I can picture VM saying in a Bugs Bunny voice 'ain't I a stinker' and it would be right. Just when you think you can say I can manage the symptoms and I can stick two fingers up to an illness by completing another half Ironman triathlon this past August (see how I managed to slip that in there, good eh) it has another trick up its sleeve. Let's give him a side effect which means he has to have a bright light for at least 45 minutes a day whilst also making it as painful as possible.
Am I down? Well no because I have the bright light for 45 minutes each day but it adds fuel to the argument to train the medical profession that viral meningitis is not like flu which is what I have been told by a number of doctors is what they are taught in training. Granted flu can also kill but very few people end up with permanent side effects from flu like short term memory problems, intolerances that appear from nowhere (Cocoa, alcohol and fresh orange juice, so that's a Chocolate Bucks Fizz well out of the window), Mollaret's Meningitis, permanent headache and one or two more. If I hear one more doctor say 'well you shouldn't have all those from viral meningitis it's only like flu' I'm going to take my Lumie lamp and shove it where the sun will shine once I've inserted it!
Still as Vice Admiral Lord Nelson is now prone to say 'Some days you're the statue, some days you're the pigeon, well mostly the statue these days to be honest but you get the gist'. As winter in these fair isles draws in, the clocks go back and I sit in front of my bright light with my eyes exploding, I can look back on the previous months with some satisfaction that it has been the best year yet since having VM. My eldest daughter got married in August, I completed the afore mentioned half Ironman a week later (I was banned from training or racing in the lead up to the wedding in case of injury because of my duty to escort my beautiful daughter down the aisle but as I pointed out I don't have to train for a wedding but I do for a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run, now I know what 'falling on deaf ears' means). I qualified as an International Triathlon Union race official, officiated at the World Triathlon Championships, won Regional Race Official of the Year for Triathlon England and with a fair wind will also soon be Chair of the Triathlon England Eastern Region. Before anyone asks; yes I do have the world's most patient wife and family. So whilst VM might be a 'stinker' and I will spend the winter in paradoxical pain for 45 minutes each day I can say to myself; (with apologies to Winston Churchill) never in the field of kicking the backside of an illness was so much achieved over so little time by so few. So if you've recently, or not so recently, had viral meningitis and you feel life is a struggle, take heart it does get better and that coming from a grumpy old man is some statement, I can tell you.