So I have been having these violent sneezing episodes," I tell the doctor.
"And you have a persistent cough," the doctor interrupts to tell me. "And a wheeze. And a nasal drip …"
She proceeds to list all my symptoms, like she is Derren Brown (1) and she is "reading" my mind. I am almost expecting her to produce a letter she posted to herself a week ago with said list of my symptoms, as well as everything I have had for dinner every night for the last seven days.
"Have you got a new animal in the house?" she asks.
"We've got cats," I say, after I stop thinking of the Quorn curry we had last night.
"Well, you're allergic to them."
"But we've had the cats for more than a year. I have only been sneezing for a month or two."
"It happens. Growing up we always had horses. I only became allergic to them in my thirties."
"Is there a remedy?"
"Yes. You can get rid of them."
"I don't think that's going to happen. I think my family would be more likely to get rid of me than the cats."
I go home. I tell J and daughters number one and two what the doctor suggested. They think I am joking. Or, more accurately, they don't take me seriously (2). It is as I feared. They believe the cats are now more central to the wellbeing of the family than I am.
Every night daughter number one comes home and cuddles the cats, telling them how beautiful they are. There is no such love and attention directed towards me, even though - now that I can't shave because of this bloody broken wrist - I am nearly as furry as the cats.
My daughters are learning to live without my input. Now that I am no longer capable of being a designated driver I serve no purpose for them anyway. The cats have the advantage of being both aesthetically pleasing and being mobile hot-water bottles.
Not that I have time to worry about any of this. I am too busy trying to keep the cats out of the bedroom. I can put up with the sneezing and the coughing as long as they do not interrupt my sleep.
The cats, though, have spotted a weakness. Suddenly they are all over me. I can't sit down for one of them jumping into my lap. I'm sure I have spotted them sharing conspiratorial looks with each other. "Your turn" is the subtext.
I have a vision of myself 10 years from now, living in a shed out the back, looking at the house I used to live in. The cats are looking back.
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