There’s nothing like a dose of reality intruding on one’s life to stop the navel gazing that can sometimes distract from what’s truly important. When I went to Spain, a number of people warned me I shouldn’t keep my wallet in my back pocket, as it was likely to get pinched. The wallet lasted the distance there, however its days were numbered nonetheless, although Canberra would not have been a place I’d have described as one to be careful with your valuables.
On Wednesday evening, I came home from work a little unwell. I’d been feeling a bit wrong for a couple of days, but had put it down to being tired, dehydrated, or just experiencing the general malaise of my job. A few people had gone home unwell over the past week or so and I expected it was the flu going round, and that soon enough, it would be my turn. I left the glass sliding door from my room to a private balcony open a few inches for some fresh air, and went to sleep, thinking about the long days I was going to have to put in on Thursday and Friday if I was to get on top of the usability evaluation we’re supposed to be running in mid-May.
At some point in the night, I awoke from a deep sleep to a loud bang and rattle, and a feeling something was seriously amiss. Something had collided with the glass door just a metre away from me, but what? Going on the lack of any daylight in the sky outside it clearly couldn’t have been a bird, perhaps something had been thrown at the window. The rattle, I realised, was the clothes rack I had set up near the glass door, to make it rattle, you had to hit it from inside the door.
I got up quickly and turned on a light, looked around my room and noted my computer and camera were still there, as were my scanner and DVD burner. Didn’t appear to have been a break in, but the flyscreen door was open, and I could’ve sworn I kept it closed. I checked out the balcony and there wasn’t a sound, nor sign of an intruder, but the hackles were definitely up. Even though I couldn’t identify anything as missing, I had a definite feeling someone had been in my room and they’d hit the door on the way out, waking me up. Nonetheless, with no visible danger, I decided to go back to sleep…though I DID close the door just to be sure.
On Thursday morning I got up at 5:30am and got dressed to go to the gym. I got my bottle of water, sweat towel, keys, wallet…wallet? Uh-oh. I refused to believe it at first, turning my room upside down, thinking I must have put it somewhere obscure and simply forgot about it, but as I rummaged in the gathering gloom of dawn, I remembered providing my driver’s licence number for an internet account and then putting my wallet beside my laptop, and the wallet definitely wasn’t there now. The stress of the moment changed to an odd relief when I looked on the balcony below mine and saw several of my cards spread out there—evidently the wallet had done it’s usual stacking trick and spilled a number of the contents as the burglar made his escape. The new corporate card I’d just got around to collecting at work, and my visa. I could see the amex, but nothing else.
As the morning progressed I eventually went outside and looked through the bushes that had masked the intruder’s activities from casual observation, checked the dumpsters, and eventually found a divot in the earth where the burglar had come over the perimeter fence on their way out. There was no sign of my wallet though, nor any more of its contents. I called the police, then bashed on the front door of the apartment below mine until someone answered, to tell them not to touch my cards until the police had been through. By the time the cops arrived I had settled from the shock and anger of losing my wallet, and was now pondering the alternate possibilities. Had the intruder been of more sinister intentions, they could’ve taken me for five figures (currently uninsured), or worse things I’d prefer not to think about.
I got onto the banks to cancel the cards that had been taken, and did my best to remember the items that had been in the wallet. It was just a week or so ago that I’d finally cleaned out the little Metro tickets from Barcelona and Madrid, as well as number of other obscure souvenirs from my travels there. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d had something in there that was irreplaceable.
By the time I arrived at work, most of the morning had slipped away, and I did my best to stay focussed. I worked late to try and make up the hours I lost in the morning, and when I finally went home, I felt even more rundown than I had the nights previously. Within an hour of getting home, I found myself perched on the throne, and I didn’t leave it for several hours beyond an occasional stagger to my bed, a few metres away. In that time, my condition deteriorated so quickly, to the extent I was no longer passing solids, but pretty much water. Eventually all that settled down, and I was able to get to sleep.
Around the time at which my wallet had been taken the night previous, I woke up with a compelling urge to get to the bathroom, and as soon as I got within range of the toilet, my stomach let fly. Whatever it was in my intestines, my body was doing everything it possibly could to purge itself. I knew I had dehydrated badly, but by the morning, I felt tired, but generally on the mend. I bought a number of sports drinks on my way to work—there were a number of meetings, including one about extending my contract here, that I couldn’t miss, so showing up for work was vital.
Turned out whatever it was, wasn’t quite done with me just yet. I lasted all of an hour, before I found myself struggling even to get to the sick bay without passing out, as waves of pain rippled through my body, and I broke into a sudden fever so powerful I had sweat spontaneously appear in sufficient quantity to start trickling. Even as I write this, I do not feel particularly well. I’m not sure if it’s the dehydration or that the illness is lingering, but my brain feels like a nut that is just a little too small for the shell, so that when you shake it, you hear a rattle. I’m also experiencing periodic loss of fine motor control in my fingers, which is more than just a little disturbing.
My mum has often commented that of our family, I’ve always been a good patient, because whenever I get sick, I just go to bed and sleep until I’m better. This time around, the circumstances of work prevented me from doing that at the time I needed to. I don’t enjoy being unwell, but I guess this time around, it has helped distract me from dwelling on the burglary too much. To not put too fine a point on it, it’s been quite a shitty week in every sense of the word.
I can’t even say “well, at least I still have my health”.