Getting sick is never fun. It begins with an aura - a vague ache or muscular weakness hinting at what lies ahead. I usually feel a low-grade generalised neck pain or a dull ache across the base of my lower back - where my spine meets my pelvis. But in these early stages it’s questionable whether this is the manifestation of a charging virus rather than a muscular strain, or perhaps the result of sleeping in an awkward position. Actually, the thought that it may be a pending illness is far from thought altogether.

And then a gentle swelling develops in the back of the throat as a team of angry inflammatory cells rush to the area in an attempt to cordon off the battlefield which lies beyond it. But they are still in trace quantities and still barely noticeable to all but the most committed hypochondriacs.

A tiny cough ensues. Just a little dust stuck in the back of my throat. An irritation - like a hair embedded in a bar of soap. It begins with a little chuckle - almost making the rejection of air sound fashionable. But then the angry cells divide and multiply and multiply and divide, until the once innocuous swelling has commandeered your throat, your ability to swallow and talk and breathe – lest a fiery pain supervene.

The glands in the throat swell further and the passageway closes up further, and now the only thing getting through is sticky phlegm- green and yellow and occasionally red – an indication that the lungs are corrupted by terrorist cells. You swallow with difficulty and you wonder why it hurts your ears - until you open your mouth in front of a mirror and see a fiery red vista starring back at you.

Until you finally deteriorate to the point where you wish you were eight-years-old again- so you can stay home from school for your mother to nurse you back to health with love and affection and hot liquefied meals. You have a fever but you’re freezing - and shivering in an attempt to reach a seemingly unattainable body temperature. Every movement you make sends thick, bounding ripples through your head – like destructive seismic waves. Your body trembles with weakness and in your state of lethargic vulnerability every tiny ache in your body is magnified ten times to feel like your body is ripping open from inside out.

Your skin begins to feel like two horses are pulling it opposite directions in a gallop. Your head feels large and heavy, and every time you try to move it feels like slow motion. You dare not bend over should the weight of your head pull you completely to the ground. A pain buries itself deep behind the eyes, into your temples and within your brain. Everything hurts. You walk around the house huddled in a blanket. Thick woollen socks. Hat. Avoiding sunlight, daylight, hard light, back light, ambient light.

Most of the time you’re huddled up in bed – foetal position, rocking back and forth, shivering and trembling, and freezing and burning up – waiting for a miraculous change in condition. But you know the remedy – wet dreams. Sweating is the key, so you drink water. Bottles and bottles of water. You go to the toilet every half hour, and each time your urine is as clear as it was when you first sourced it. But you continue drinking water, deluding yourself that you’re encouraging your body to sweat and hence deliver these foul, invading germs from your body.

And finally, in the middle of the night, the sweat finally comes and it is the vehicle of salvation. Strange lucid dreams continue through the broken sleep, but it is all welcomed, as it is a sign of cleansing. And the morning brings with it wet and smelly pyjamas which are celebrated with broken fever, for this is the beginning of the end… the return to vigour.