Sin… sniff sniff

Sniffing. Can’t BEAR it. And there is ALWAYS someone sniffing. Like a reverse dripping tap, except, I suppose, the dripping is still there. You wait for the inevitable next one, wondering if they’ll be nice enough to choke on their mucus and give you some peace. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a racking cough as the person’s chest seems to want to exit their body via any orifice handy.

And it echoes. Each sniff races around after the remnants of the last, hoping to catch up, hoping to combine and join forces to become a solid force and take over the world, one nose at a time.

Can’t bear it. Mucous Mickey. Lovely guy. Really. But when you earn a nickname like Mucous and have a hook attached to your colostomy trolley to hold the roll of tissue, you have a problem. When you leave little greeny-yellow, sticky puddles wherever you sit, Houston, you have a problem. It doesn’t help when you’re floating on a fluffy white cloud of whichever drug cocktail they’ve served you with that day. So when you have a problem like Mickey’s, I, and any others who really can’t BEAR sniffing, also have a problem.

And there’s no escape. You cover your ears, but the sound wheedles its way into the tiny gaps in your fingers, teasing through until it finds your ear drum and then it uses it as a trampoline. You could try to go and hide in a corner, but they’re all taken up by the Corner-copias – a group of semi-but-not-very-lucid patients who all stare at the same spot on the floor from their respective corners. They never speak to each other, never share so much as a passing glance with one another, but they’re all fascinated by the same inch of polished, shiny white tiling on the recreation room floor.

Woe betide any who might step on the spot. Worse than the damage done to your mother from stepping on a crack. As one they’d leap up and descend on the perpetrator like a group of velociraptors on their prey. After the second dismemberment, the spot and the surrounding tiles became a no man’s land. It was as if they had actually disappeared from this plane of surreality, only to be seen by the chosen few – the Corner-copias. Your feet automatically made a small diversion or a large step to avoid them.

Of course there’s always one. One person, sane or otherwise, who has to take their life in their hands, swing it around their heads and dance till dawn. Spider, spider, burning bright, it’s always Terrance who starts a fight. Terrance. As irritating as sniffing, and with the same talent for clogging the back of your throat and messing with your sinuses. If there’s something you shouldn’t do, he’ll do it. If there’s something you can’t do, he’ll try. Walk on the ceiling? Fractured his skull and broke his arm. Kiss an orderly? One rib broken and a three month spell in Room 101, with only a smart little buckle-up jacket for company. At least it’s comfortable in there.

Step on the spot? Risk being pulled limb from limb? The okey-cokey was never meant to be danced that way – left leg in, left leg out, left leg in and run like hell. Never heard anyone scream so high. Not even one of those singers who can smash a glass at forty paces. They didn’t catch him though. The orderlies didn’t interfere, not that they ever really do, they just let the chase begin. But Terrence managed to avoid the clutches of the spot spotting clan that day and almost every other day since. One day they’ll catch him, and all our irritations will be at an end. One day he’ll put his left leg in and one of the Corner-copias will be shaking it all about.

Pity they can’t do anything about the sniffing though. Can’t bear it.

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