Saturday, 7 January 2012


I’m in the pub. Well, it’s not actually a pub but a hotel. It’s one of the few places in the centre of Cardiff, currently stag night capital of Britain, where you can get a quiet drink and a seat. Only tonight there’s a wedding on. Reception is full of shrieking families, running kids on sugar highs and fat bellied men in uncomfortable suits. The noise is terrific.

Don has just told me the story about buying a jam donut. Not a thing he does often but on this occasion, a pale morning walking in Penarth, he was just overtaken by desire. I know the feeling. Prednisolone brings it on me all the time. The entrance to Greggs was blocked by lounging youth, hooded, fags in hands, every other word they uttered an expletive. So I ****ing says **** you ***, **** off. Normal conversation, for them. Don objects. There are women working here, he shouts, you’re offending them. Move off. He points his arm. Amazingly they go. No attempt made to swear back. It must be something about how Don looks.

Inside the shop the staff thank him profusely. What did you want, love, asks one of them. A donut. Have this one on Greggs. A donut free, tastes even nicer. Don is delighted. How much do they cost, I ask him. £1.50 for five or 35p each. As little as that. I could do with a bag right now.

We get onto talking about illnesses, hospital visits and inevitably my life on steroids. It’s the way of the world now. I’d never heard of polymyalgia, says Don, but now everyone seems to have it. There’s at least two at the golf club. One of them has increased his collar by at least two sizes. My fear, that one. Not happened yet but I’m still waiting.

The prednisolone experience is different for everyone. Some balloon fairly quickly, it seems. The moon face arrives and stays until the dose tapers to lower levels. Depends where you start, how you are, who you are, how much you eat. The steroids move weight around is the official line. Male sufferers I’ve talked to all report a certain bagginess around the middle but not everyone ends up with a round face.

Here I am this morning checking how I look in the mirror. Like I was yesterday and that was pretty much how I was the day before that. I had two drinks in the bar last night. Managed them okay for once. Alcohol isn’t what it once was. Nothing is.

I check the cake tin. Empty. Been that was for a few months now, ever since the PMR first showed. How far is it to the nearest Greggs I wonder. Not far. Donuts. Mmm. A difficult desire to resist but I manage it. I have an apple instead.

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