I’m incredibly lucky to have a parent and stepparent living in the same city as me, both of whom were brilliant while I was unwell - GulfToday

I’m incredibly lucky to have a parent and stepparent living in the same city as me, both of whom were brilliant while I was unwell


Photo used for illustrative purpose.

Olivia Petter, The Independent

I think it was the moment I started pacing with a bowl on my head that I knew something was a little off. Or it might have been when I squealed, “oh, Katy Perry!” to absolutely no one while I watched the coronation on my phone. Or when I started drawing various things around me with my eyes closed — a friend actually suggested that one.

This was not the plan. In fact, that weekend, my plan was to ignore the coronation altogether and go to Ireland with 15 friends for a hen do. But instead, a relentless fever and some dodgy blood test results meant I was hospitalised for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear. Cue 72 hours of health anxiety, panic attacks, and various existential crises. I don’t even like Katy Perry. Being sick leaves you at your most vulnerable, mentally and physically. As a hypochondriac, I am not great at handling even the most minor of maladies: one sniffle of the nose and I’m stockpiling Lemsip. But this time around was different for several reasons.

The first is that it’s the first time I’ve been hospitalised overnight since I was a child. The second is that I’ve never had such severe symptoms (my fever was 39.9C for five days), or been told by my GP that I needed to urgently get to A&E. The third is that I’m single.

Now, I know that might sound ridiculous. But at 29, I am one of the few people in my friendship group that isn’t in a serious relationship. Everyone is busier than ever before, making strides in their career, getting married, having children, and so on. It’s exciting! But it means that, in moments like this, it can be hard to know who you’re supposed to depend on.

Of course, people call and text when they can, checking in and offering little tidbits of gossip and trivia to lighten the mood, all of which can be a lifeline. But when it comes down to it, the only person that’s really going to go above and beyond for you in an emergency as an adult is probably your romantic partner or your family. That’s not an indictment on anyone in particular, it’s just reflective of reality.

A partner would be stuck by your side, offering to stay the night and bringing you food. At least I would if roles were reversed. It’s not always fair to expect that from a friend. I’m incredibly lucky to have a parent and stepparent living in the same city as me, both of whom were brilliant while I was unwell. But even then it can feel like a burden to lean too heavily, particularly when the emergency is taking a toll on them, too, like any health scare would.

The three days and two nights I spent in that hospital were a serious wake-up call — and not just because I barely slept. It made me realise how our culture places so much significance on finding your “other half” that, in situations like this, not having one really can make you feel like half a person; like you only have a fraction of a meaningful life.

I know that’s not true — and have written extensively about the benefits of being single and the importance of learning to be okay on your own, with or without a partner. But something about that period in hospital made all of that seem out of reach, somehow. I wonder how different things would be if society saw platonic and romantic love as of equal importance, instead of prioritising the latter above the former.

Say what you like about single positivity, it’s still romance and coupledom that is celebrated more than anything else. Just take a look at Instagram: what are the posts that generate the most likes? The engagement announcements. Weddings. Pregnancies. Babies.

To be clear, I’m getting better. And the fact that whatever was wrong with me is now improving has been reflected in my latest blood test results. But the thoughts I had in that hospital bed, often after periods of sleepless delirium at 3am, are still lingering.

Not everyone has parents to call in a crisis. I’m grateful that I did. While I can’t change the way society champions romantic love above all else, I can certainly adjust my own priorities. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since I was discharged.

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