During the past week, I have spent more time sleeping than awake. Even when up and dressed, I have contrived to doze off whilst sitting in an armchair.
Perhaps it has been the cocktail of medications, the usual tablets for hypertension, statins and anti-depressants, combined with steroids, antibiotics, omeprazole, and anti-nausea tablets. By yesterday, I was struggling to remember which day it was, but perhaps that was just the time of year.
The course of medication for a chest infection and an ear infection is now complete, but there remains a severe feeling of weakness, an unsteadiness when I stand up. It must be close on fifty years since I felt so unwell.
A week of the school holidays remains, hopefully the upward curve of improvement will be a steep one and the new term will begin with energy levels somewhere near normal.
In the 1970s, the downward curve had been a long one.
It had been the best part of two terms since I had spent more than two days together at school. Missing much of the spring term in one school, I had transferred to another, where I missed most of the summer term. The return in September had been brief, asthma had become severe, and by half-term Somerset County Council’s education authority had decided strong mesaures were necessary.
On 11th November 1974, I started at a school deep within a valley of Dartmoor. The county council were paying the fees, which were equivalent to those of a public school.
The school was austere, arbitrarily disciplinarian, fundamentalist in its Christianity, but for a fourteen year old who weighed less than seven stones and who had not reached five feet in height, it became a place of sanctuary and restoration. The school’s emphasis on exercise, exercise and exercise allowed a gradual building up of strength (and left an abiding love for the hills of Dartmoor).
I’m not sure what would happen to someone like me now, perhaps medication has advanced to the point where moorland runs and endless hours of football are not necessary. It is hard to imagine any local authority would consider paying the sort of fees that were paid by the councils who sent children to the school.
Were there somewhere I might go for a few weeks, somewhere to pass the hours reading and walking and sleeping, I think I should like to go there. As it is, there is rent to be paid and work to be done.
I had a conversation with a workmate once, we were about the same age. For some reason the numbers of children with asthma came up, he remarked that “you never saw anyone with asthma at my school”. I told him where I’d been to school and explained that they’d ended up in places like that, or they’d died young. He refused point blank to believe what I’d seen, and told me it was because the modern youth were mollycoddled or words to that effect. I gave up!
I suspect a lot of kids just died,
Every generation complains that young people have it too easy!