So I moved way back in June. It was damp when I moved but the landlord, a friend of a friend, was aware of the problem and taking steps to remedy it. They took various steps to rid the house of damp but they didn't nail it and now, as Autumn pulls its coats tighter and bows its head against Winter's bitter winds, the house and its contents aren't so much damp as dissolving rapidly.
Very soon after moving in I caught a cold and when I let the cold go again, I retained a small memento of its passing in the form of an irritating cough. I probably should have done something about the cough sooner but you know what chaps are like when it comes to health and quacks, especially with something as apparently petty as a cough, so I didn't.
As a child I suffered from asthma. Not the near-death-adrenalin-injection-in-the-bum form of asthma but the milder wheezy-at-footy-and-games-involving-running form. Luckily I was free of asthma just before puberty and soon replaced the absentee asthmatic coughin and wheezin with the nicotine and thc kind so I didn't really miss it that much or for very long. And when I did eventually take my new cough along for the doctor's inspection, my asthma experience meant that I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. First a course of amoxycillin for a chest infection. When that didn't work, a chest x-ray to rule out the unmentionables plus a prescription of steroid and ventolin inhalers to deal with the more palatable, and probable, causes of the coughin. I had the x-ray on Monday and got on with using the inhalers believing that my asthma had returned, no doubt encouraged by the damp conditions, and that was that.
My GP called on Wednesday afternoon. The results of the x-ray are in and something on them indicates that it's slightly more serious than just asthma and further tests are needed. It seems likely that I have one of two things: atypical-pneumonia or tuberculosis. TUBERCUWHATSIS?!?!? I explained to my doctor how, when the BCG vaccinations were being inflicted on my schoolmates, my skin-test indicated a built-in immunity to tb and I was spared the BCG. Ah, my GP reassured me, it's not as simple as that - they now believe that in some cases, a test result that was previously thought to indicate immunity might actually mean that I have been a carrier of latent tuberculosis for a very long time.
So now I have to spend several mornings spitting in sample jars so they can work out which I have. On the one hand, I'm not spitting up blood so tuberculosis does seem unlikely. On the other hand, I have spent large portions of my life at least attempting to write romantic poetry and I do quite fancy a trip to Lake Geneva (not to mention 5,000 grains of opium if you have Dr Polidori's mobile number handy?), so perhaps the evidence is inconclusive. I think the craziest thing is to be bagging up jars of my own sputum in a bag bearing a very conspicuous BIOHAZARD label!