Despite the impending exams and my general aversion to daylogging, the christmas season offered up more than its fair share of drama this year and I felt it worth recording now that I'm back online and in decent health. I doubt any more revision would sink in this evening, my dreams will be full of metric spaces as it is...that's my excuse, anyway!

Britnoders may recall me enquiring a while back about the MMR vaccination and its possible drawbacks. Despite having received MMR as a child of 5 (before this became official NHS policy or the autism scares started getting tabloid attention), I was pondering a booster since mumps was running rampant through Bath University. The general concensus was that the vaccination would probably be unpleasant but adult mumps far more so. However, not fancying the loss of a couple of days to an adverse reaction and being, according to my mother, completely safe by virtue of the childhood jab, I didn't bother.

Lesson 1: The Britnoders are a better source of parent-like advice than your parents.

Or in other words, I got mumps. They're right, it really isn't a pleasant illness. The Doctor helpfully pointed out that with hindsight, I should have had a booster, as it transpires that childhood immunisation doesn't always render you immune later on. Your immunity may wear out by, say, the time you head off to University, one of the most likely places for getting caught up in an outbreak (I was something like the 50th case here since the academic year started in October). Hindsight is fairly useless for me but I'd suggest that others don't repeat my mistake and take any vaccines offered should they be in a similar situation. They weren't even charging...

The most pressing concern was that I'd have to cancel my holiday, since I got the diagnosis two days before I was set to fly out to Norway. Not wanting to miss my first holiday in 3 years, I was relieved to discover that I was most likely past the infectious stage and so any suffering would be restricted to myself. A quick call to Ryanair indicated that they'll fly pretty much anyone anyway, so I was all set.

So it was that myself and the mysterious non-noder Pete (from the Birmingham meet) found ourselves in the wonderful Oslo for a few days. Whilst there we met up with toalight and tingo one evening, and I'd like to thank them again for taking time out to offer us some company and a slice of Norwegian culture that we would otherwise never experienced, plus footing the bill for dinner too! Proof where none was needed that E2 really is a community. I won't go on at length about the holiday; but the traditional mumps remedy of a hot scarf seems misguided based on my experience. The sub-zero temperatures kept the pain at bay and sight-seeing provided a suitable distraction from it; I mostly did without the aspirin and just had a few restless and feverish nights as my body tried to process it.

By the time I got back I even thought it'd gone away and I'd escaped with a mild 10 day case. However, returning to Britain proved to be my undoing, as it flared up with a vengeance, with perfect timing, on Christmas eve.

Lesson 2: The christmas experience is somewhat diminished when it hurts to talk or eat.

When, a long time ago, I studied Jitsu, we did some work on the most painful parts of the body. There are entire katas devoted to the art of inflicting misery. One of the points on the head involved lifting someone by pressing your fingers on the parotid, roughly where the jawbone folds 90 degrees, near the neck. It never seemed all that painful in class, so I guess no-one was doing it right- as the golf-ball like swelling I got at christmas was pressing straight on it for three days and the only reason you don't scream is because doing so would involve opening your mouth. Which hurts even more. Instead you spend a lot of time pacing around and snapping at your loved ones- I believe my first words on christmas morning to an otherwise cheery family were the less than festive "Sod off, I'm not being cheerful until I've had a lot of drugs". I rarely take any kind of medication, but I'd lucked out on a soluble aspirin I could actually handle so was dosed pretty much around the clock from christmas eve to Boxing Day.

The morning of Boxing day was somewhat marred by family disputes which are just as much a hallmark of christmas as an excess of chocolate. I don't fancy sharing the details but it's disappointingly outlived the holiday break as people still aren't talking three weeks later. You'd think the events of that evening would make people see sense, but no.

Lesson 3: When in shock, I revert to my underlying programming- mathematical logic- and try to reason my way out.

Probably because of the painkillers I was asleep in the back of the car as we drove back to my parents' in Suffolk. So I wouldn't remember the impact anyway. More disturbingly, I have almost no recollection of the following half hour, even though I was apparently conscious and capable of holding a conversation or walking around. Unfortunately, it was a case of the lights being on with nobody home- on closer inspection I was talking but not making a whole lot of sense.

It later dawned on me that I'd been in a car crash, the details of which were basically as follows. A (presumably broken down) car had parked as sensibly as possible on the hard shoulder, with no more than a front wheel on the carriageway. Sadly, whoever had presumably come to meet the occupants of that car decided to simply park in the left lane next to them. They then switched off their lights, and didn't put on any hazards. This is an unlit stretch of national-speedlimit dual carriageway, so this wasn't perhaps the smartest move. Traffic in the left lane, finding itself blocked with little time to react, was swerving into the right-hand lane (the faster one, here in England) along which we were driving. Seeing all this, my dad slowed down to allow vehicles in and avoid a collision, and all the blocked cars between the obstruction and us safely made it in.

Sadly, the driver behind us wasn't allowing enough distance or failed to brake soon enough, and plowed into the back of us, writing off both vehicles. Had we been at a dead stop, or had I not being wearing a seatbelt, someone else might be writing this node. As it was, the others got a bit of whiplash which I, relaxed and asleep, managed to avoid as my head jolted off the bit of bodywork it had been resting on. Problem was, being asleep I didn't stop myself rebounding back into said bit of bodywork. It didn't split the skin, but even through the sleepy painkiller haze the back of my head hurt a lot more than I can ever remember it doing. Except for maybe one other time in jitsu where I lost a few seconds.

The others realised that it had obviously done some damage, as this time I immediately started complaining that I'd missed christmas. In fact, I kept repeating that and hopeless trains of logic over and over in a robotic monotone. It seems that although not concussed, I went into shock and couldn't process what had happened. Everytime I got close to figuring out it was a car accident, I'd look all confused, glance again at my watch, and ask again how we'd got to the 26th already.

As far as I was concerned, I should be in Bath studying maths like I always do, not on the roadside in Suffolk in December. Some probing revealed I couldn't recall any specific events this side of October- not just christmas, but mumps, my holiday, my 21st....this, understandably, distressed me even more.

My continuous memory restarts some half hour after the crash with the paramedics asking me if I could walk to the ambulance with them. I guess the flashing lights, neon jackets and so-on helped provide some context as I was able to get to grips with things from then on, although I was still hyperventilating, shaking like a leaf and sporting a pulse rate in the 120's. I was somewhat more confused to realise I was on the wrong side of the car, i.e. not sitting where I'd been when the accident happened, which suggested I'd got out and moved around. I do vaguely recall spitting out a mouthful of blood onto the grass verge, so I guess that's exactly what I did. I also recall someone from the other car standing outside and asking if I was alright (this whilst still on the 'correct' side of the car). Apparently I cheerfully answered yes!

After an hour or so at the hospital I'd managed to control the physical panic and restore my memory, less that hour surrounding the crash, so they let me go home. For all the bad press they get, I'd have to say the emergency services were wonderful. The paramedics and hospital staff were very reassuring, and the police officers who had arrived at the scene first actually dropped by the hospital to see how I was. I of course, had no idea who they were, even though I'd apparently already spent ten minutes talking to them at the scene, but it was a nice gesture. Plus for a while, I could completely ignore the mumps...

Osmosis says re January 8, 2005: Holy shit. And here was I thinking I'd had a bad Christmas. Hope you feel better soon.
toalight says re January 8, 2005: Crikes! What a flurry of EVENTS. You sound in relatively good spirits though, so I take it the physical injury was negligible. Compared to the mumps at least...
bipolarbear says re January 8, 2005: my housemate had mumps (we're in bristol). you have my sympathies. mumps sucks badly. :)
BaronWR says Bad luck with the mumps/ car accident, we've had mumps at cambridge too, although I've essentially ignored them (I only actually got vaccinated when I got home). E2 is turning into a soap opera though, I don't check up for a few days and you get ill and in a car crash and wertperch gets married. I give it a week before dman reappears and anounces he's bones' long-lost half-brother
tingo says I read that You've been in an accident. I hope everybody got out of that with no permanent injuries. Get well soon!
The Debutante says re January 8, 2005: Very, very dramatic. I do hope that you are ok...
purple_curtain says What a bloody awful Christmas...

Thanks everyone! Got back up to speed after a week or so, now it's just exams to worry about!