Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Under the weather

Sheesh, my luck already.I have a lousy, stinking, rotten cold. My tongue is swollen and cracked, my eyes running, my glands are swollen, my head sore sore and I can't breathe through my nose. I am gulping water and hot tea. I am coughing and coughing and coughing.

I am afraid of why I am coughing. I breathed in that oily, poisonous bloodfilled smoke for half an hour. I had nothing to hold over my mouth and nose.
I wonder what I am coughing up, what I breathed in. My face, noise, clothes hair, teeth, tongue, spit were black for days from that smoke.

I emailed Kings Cross United people to see if any others were having respiratory symptoms. I don't want to think too long and too hard about why it is suddenly difficult to breathe.

It rained and rained all day Monday and will do so again tomorrow. Work is frantic; I have to write a huge presentation tomorrow which will mean staying late.

As well as doing work today I fielded calls and emails from more people from the trian. And I had a dignified, heart-breaking conversation from a man who had lost a friend he loved on the train. Because he was not family, the police and family would not give him any details of what had happened to the friend he loved. Yet he so needed to know.

So I told him. How packed the train had been, how the atmosphere had been almost jolly, because of the Olympics, how people, including his friend surged on at Kings Cross platform where the crowd was six-deep as the trains were all delayed and overcrowded. How the numbers packed into the train, despite the narrowness of the tunnel meant that only 25 died in a carriage of over one hundred. In many ways, incredible.

How the doors closed at Kings Cross, people jostled into cramped positions, the train rumbled off with a hiss and picked up speed as it plunged underground still further and 30 seconds or so after the doors closed there was A bang. Darkness. Everything stopped.

And that was the last thing his friend would have known. Dark. Stop. Instantaneous.

'I saw his hand, his life line', the man who lost his friend told me. 'It was so short. I knew his life would be short. I told him. And now I know it was quick. And there was nothing anyone could have done, and nothing he could have done, and nothing he would have known.'

'Nothing.' I agreed. 'He would have known nothing'.

Nothing. Which is after all a kind of peace.
Rest in peace. And let us who are left find peace too. Peace be upon all of us. In the name, if you like, of the Merciful, the Compassionate. Mercy, compassion, peace: these are not bad aims to have and to call holy. But if they can't be reflected and lived out in human lives, then I would rather have the peace of Nothing, the quietness of darkness.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again from Palo Alto, Calif. - I was so glad that you went off to Turkey and got a break from London. Sounds like you had a great trip and broke through the tourist barrier to get to know the locals, the best way to travel!

Sorry to hear you are feeling so sick. When I read the title and first sentence, I thought "of course, she picked up a nasty virus on the plane and her immune system is probably a bit weaker because of the recent stress." I didn't anticipate your concern that the respiratory symptoms are related to the smoke and crud. I hope you're dealing with a normal sort of virus that people pick up all the time when they travel and it gets better soon. Certainly the crud in your lungs will make it harder to get over and make the symptoms worse, but hopefully that's a transient thing, not a long-term problem. Check with your doctor and see if there is anything you can use to reduce the symptoms now, or to do further diagnosis if you are concerned about long-term lung health. Or talk to a fireman, they probably know lots about how lungs cope with smoke and crud and how long it can take for your body to clear that crap out.

Best wishes for restored health,
Carol E.

August 24, 2005 5:21 am  
Blogger Peter said...

Hello Rachael. Yes, of course I would give you all of the help that I can regarding your photo's. I can't email you though, as there is no email address on your blog (which is so worthwhile anyone reading). Perhaps you could email me directly through the email address on my blog and I will answer as fully as I can. Take care of yourself and I hope you get well soon. Peter

August 24, 2005 9:34 am  
Anonymous seth said...

hello rachel,

sorry to hear that you arent feeling well after what seemed to be a fun time in turkey.

after reading your post..i started thinking....hmmm..do they have ENT (ear,nose,and throat doctors) like they do in the US? or..better yet..maybe u can seek out a physician who specializes in occupational illnesses.after 9/11 here in ny...one of the big hospitals had their center for occupational illness and lung specialists treat people who inhaled concrete dust,etc from the collapse of the world trade center......but i dont know how the british NHS system works.

feel better,
seth :)

August 24, 2005 6:58 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I have just been to the GP. She says I have severe bronchitis and has given me antibiotics. She thinks it may be caused by particles irritating the lungs coupled with stress depressing the immune response, or maybe my lungs were knackered and I picked up the infection on the plain. Either way, she says, amoxycillin should clear it, whatever the causse; if there's still probs I'll go to University College Hospital Thoracis clinic as they treated me after the bomb.

Peter, thank you for your offer of help. I am jealous of all the pics on your site. I'm going to have a crack at it over the long weekend and if I can't figure it out I will email you and pick your brains.

Best wishes

R x

August 24, 2005 7:22 pm  

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