• Jan Baker

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Feeling unwell, how far is this actually different from being sick?

If sickness is poor health resulting in a disease or an organ (or part of the body) unable to work as it should because of things like an infection, and being unwell is also defined as being in poor health or sick, how do we make the distinction? Generally, I think you can feel "unwell" but still carry on normal day-to-day activities. It's more a feeling of being a bit off-colour. A vague sensation that you don't feel "right" but have nothing seriously specific enough to pin it on that stops you in your tracks.

If someone tells me they are sick though, it gives me immediate visions of having a specific (quite serious) disease or an infection that needs medical treatment; of being laid up in bed for a while, or of actually being in hospital. But then, you can have hospital appointments and treatment and not be sick - my mother went for a scan the other week and she's definitely not sick & a friend of mine broke her arm & had to have it plastered not so long ago. And, to confuse things even more, if you're too sick, you can't have an operation. Because to have an operation, you have to have a level of wellness to cope with the anaesthetic etc., if that makes sense. Head spinning yet?

The doctor will also give you a sicknote but not necessarily prescribe you tablets to make you better. Sometimes all you need is a break and/or some rest from an injury or time off from a stressful working environment. And then injuries... do you class yourself as sick if you bust up your knee playing football and are you sick if you have a hangover (yes, there's an obvious physical potential with this one...)? The more you think about it the more you wonder how many ways you have to say, "Something is not quite right with my body"...

So, why sickness this week as a topic? Well, I've had two bouts of it in as many weeks. Normally, my immune system is pretty robust. You don't teach in school for as long as I did without becoming immune to many germs. It is a univeral truth that children are super-spreaders and none more so than my gorgeous grandson, who loves to share whatever it is that he's got! And the poor mite has had a double ear infection and a sickness bug in as many weeks.

In my case, it started with me feeling a bit unwell. A headache here, a dry throat there. Then it developed into full blown sinusitis. Out came the winter wellness blend*, but the infection had by this time taken hold and it migrated to my chest. Essential oils, as we know, are wonderful little bottles of wellness but in the same way no tablet can mend a broken bone, essential oils can only manage symptoms up to a point. I generally find a combination of oils and a course of Echinacea do the trick 90% of the time if I am feeling unwell; however, this time I needed a little extra help because at this point I became sick.

I had to re-arrange two days' worth of clinic appointments and took myself off to bed. Covid test was taken and came back negative; one thing less to worry about but in the end a course of double antibotics was required to shift it. I guess eight straight months of working with no time off, COVID lockdowns, worry about whether the business would survive, and family commitments all took their toll. And I'm thinking to myself as I'm writing this, practice what you preach, woman! At what point do you pause and recharge?

And so, having fought off the infection, I immediately came down with a tummy bug. Immune system was lower than normal, so out came the ti-tree bath salts. Now Ti-tree is marvellous for boosting your immune system, which is why I've included in our COVID-19 recovery pack**. A blend for nausea containing lemon, ginger, sandalwood and mandarin was duly made up. Coupled with some cajeput (this is great for the other end), and I was all set. I've therefore had two weekends out of action, where my body has told me to stop. Fully recovered now, I am no longer unwell or sick. But it is a timely reminder:



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