Self-employment and illness, and thoughts on DJing on opiates
Last week I became ill. I got tonsillitis. My throat was so infected you could be forgiven for thinking I was cultivating Stilton in there. I was weak, feverish and in pain. Sounds like a good reason for a day off, right? Not when you’re self-employed.
The stirrings of my illness began after work one night. I put my sore throat down to singing a little too enthusiastically to Fallout Boy songs. I shrugged it off and worked the next night, but come morning I couldn’t ignore that I was terribly, terribly ill. When you’re self-employed you don’t really have time to be sick. Nobody’s going to pay you to stay in bed. DJing is a particularly prickly customer when it comes to off-days, as finding someone to cover you is
difficult for a myriad of reasons. People have their own nights to take care of, maybe rival nights. They don’t know your music policy inside-out like you do. To top it off – YOU have to pay them. It’s not really a route anyone wants to go down. I can’t remember the last time I skipped a night of work because I was ill. I’ve even DJed with one arm useless in a cast (that’s a story for another time though).
Luckily this time, a trip to the GP later and I was sent home with a bag rattling with medication.
DJing on enough codeine to knock out a horse is an interesting experience. Lying at home simpering on my sofa in front of RuPauls Drag Race is one thing, but performing any sort of meaningful task under the effects of an opioid is a whole different animal. Having never taken a recreational drug in my life, I can only comment that I found the whole affair rather peculiar. I felt like I was in a strange twilight of mild confusion, slightly on autopilot. I lost count of how many times I spilled tea on my thigh by absently holding the mug at the wrong angle while distracted by something else. Although my illness
had nothing to do with my voice, the infection certainly took its toll on the volume, to the point where I was miming and scribbling notes to people. Don’t even get me started on having to refuse drinks because 3 of the 4 medications you’re on will react and make you violently sick. The other one just makes your mouth cripplingly dry so you have to continually weigh up sipping more water against the chance that someone can cover you for a bathroom break. While we’re on the subject: you know how long women usually like to spend in toilets? I mean aside from the gossip and the preening, I’m talking in the actual stall. What are they doing in there? I’m a woman and I’m still baffled. I do what I like to refer to as ‘DJ wees’ – I’m in and out in less than 30 seconds.
I’m back on the horse again tonight. So just remember – be thankful for your sick pay. Somewhere out there, there’s a DJ with a belly full of meds working through the pain to keep your party going.