Dodgy blind in room 4
Move to a country with beautiful views (Room 4)!

Once Mariacristina and I had ridden the first bumps in our relationship and come out stronger than ever, the question arose as to where we were going to live once she finished her studies. After all the challenges we’d faced in the first year or two, it was no longer suitable to stay in different countries and face the trials of a long-distance relationship.

There were very sensible reasons for Mariacristina to move over to London, rather than me to Italy, but they’re too boring to go into here. They may have been very sensible reasons, but I can’t help but think about how fabulous it could have been to move to Italy and start building our life together there. I adore the country: the people, the food, the lifestyle, the culture, the weather – need I go on?

I was probably also a bit of a stuck-in-the-mud at the time about having started a career and not wanting to threaten its development; looking back, it seems crazy, considering I was very much at the lowest rung of the ladder. Most of all, though, I’m much more certain now that there are so many far more important things to consider than getting ahead in your job.

Anyway, after Mariacristina moved to London in April 2009, we bounced from place to place, never spending more than a year in one flat and going through a series of traumatic moves. Moving from Chestnut Grove in Balham to Du Cane Court down the road and around the corner, we undertook dozens of trips trundling over the potholes with a Sainsbury’s trolley full of our bits and pieces. When that studio flat became too small, we hired two men and a van to move us to Tooting Bec, but only one turned up, and he couldn’t speak English; I had a mechanical injury at the time, too, but ended up doing half the shifting anyway. Then the landlord in Tooting hiked the rent, so we had to move out three days before going to Italy for our wedding, and could only find a place in Sutton we couldn’t move into until after we got back; we ended up leaving a van-load of stuff at Tom’s, a carload at cousin Jimmy’s, another carful  with Andrea and Lewis, and still had to secrete various bits around my office.

I’ve always hated packing, and although Mariacristina sometimes relents and helps me before we go on holiday, she’s not a big fan either. So when I was told today that as a result of picking up Influenza B I would be moving rooms, I had mixed feelings. On the plus side, I would get a change of scenery – and the room was to be Bed 3, of which I have fond memories from the very first time I was an inpatient here. It also has a great view of the nurses’ station, which is much more lively than looking out of the window at grey hospital buildings.

Mariacristina looking angry in front of blank board

Unfortunately it also meant I had to pack, and it’s remarkable how much stuff you can accumulate in hospital in a couple of weeks. Worst of all, we had to take down all the wonderful photos and cards that Mariacristina had lovingly arranged on the whiteboard and the doors. However, the decree had been given that I needed to move to a negative-pressure room to avoid contaminating the rest of the ward, so there it was.

At least, there it was until my father and I had finished packing everything – at which point an angry nurse told us the instructions had been overruled and all their work towards shifting people around the word had been wasted: I was to stay in Bed 4. Apparently the microbiologists had decided a neutral-pressure room was more sensible to avoid spreading the virus.

I was gutted, to be honest – all that (tiring) packing, the excitement at moving to Bed 3, and all for nothing. Mariacristina arrived and unpacked a few things after I’d had some assurance they weren’t going to change their minds again. She put up one of the beautiful enlarged photos from our wedding, but couldn’t face completely rebuilding the collage.

Thank God she didn’t. Just as she and my father were leaving, another nurse told us that my room was not so neutral after all, and that I needed to move to Bed 6 after all for that. And that’s where I hopefully will be soon, having gathered the scattered bits and pieces and piled them on my bed, ready to be shifted. Hmph.

On a less frustrating note, today I felt much better than yesterday: no nausea or vomiting, and – aside from a slow morning – more energy and less sleepiness. But I do have the flu, so all visitors to my room (family, nurses, everyone) will need to wear masks, and I’m on Tamiflu tablets for the next five days. I’m assured that’ll knock it on the hand, which is a relief as my neutrophils are 0.0.

The other grand excitement of the day was a relentless exchange of avian puns on WhatsApp prompted by my blog about birdwatching and side-effects. I blame Duncan for starting with “Good to see you are still larking about a bit, eider that or you are going a bit cuckoo!” It gets much, much worse, but I’ll spare you the full horrors. For the very patient and curious, I’ve put the full conversation on another page.

I should wake up in Bed 6 on Day +7 – though at this rate I can’t be sure… Fingers crossed!

George, his father and a bird
Birds of a feather

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