I don’t know if it’s down to the stress of having four children or whether it’s just because I’m getting old, but I have become a total physical wreck in recent weeks.

As I have posted (probably at great length) previously, I have developed a most upsetting tendency towards coming down with tonsillitis at the drop of a hat. It seems not a sniffle or bug can pass through my house without the bacteria who inhabit my throat thinking this signals party time. I have had confirmed cases at least five times in the last couple of years, three of which have been in the past few months, and two since the twins were born. The last time was particularly horrendous, to the point where I decided it was time to visit an Ear, Nose &  Throat specialist to get something done about it. Not surprisingly, his recommendation was to get a tonsillectomy. As he put it, “No tonsils, no tonsillitis.” So I’m booked in for the big op in about 3 weeks time, and it sounds absolutely horrific. Recovery takes two weeks, which as I’m sure you can imagine MrsH is totally delighted about, as the sous-parent will be out of commission for much longer than is acceptable. I’m lead to believe that the pain will be severe, and if you look at the list of medication I will be receiving post-op, you’d think I was opening my own pharmacy. When my throat isn’t hurting, I often wonder why on earth am I putting myself through this. But within the last few hours my throat has started to twinge again (two days after my last course of antibiotics finished), reminding me that I am living my entire life in fear of the symptoms returning and knocking me out from both my work and parenting duties for days at a time with worrying frequency.

As if this wasn’t enough, I have developed the mother of all bad backs in the last week or two. It started as a little twinge in my lower back, which I put down to the unusual position I keep sitting in, on our increasingly knackered sofa, to feed the babies. But as the days have gone by it has got worse and worse, to the point where I sound (and feel) like an old man every time I sit down, get up, bend over or roll over in bed. I’ve never before experienced so much difficulty at putting on my socks, not to mention the constant desire of at least three of my four children to be carried everywhere (the two smallest ones often need to be carried simultaneously).

MrsH has pointed out that I’ve started to remind her of a certain chronic hypochondriac member of my family (who will remain nameless – we’ll refer to him/her as Relative A). The rest of the family long ago gave up starting conversations with this particular person in the generally accepted, polite way – “How are you?” – for fear of being regaled with hour-long stories about the latest stomach bug, ingrowing toenail or worse. It feels pretty awkward greeting someone with a “Hello” and then launching into the rest of the conversation with the requisite “How are you?”, but needs must…As far as I’m concerned, the principal difference between me and Relative A is that I am actually suffering these problems, whereas Relative A is usually just ill because they believe themselves to be. But maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe Relative A really does have a genetic propensity to suffer from every imaginable condition under the sun, and my own genes that I share with Relative A are starting to exhibit their phenotype as my defenses are weakened by the continual influx of children into my life. I bloody hope not.

To top it all, my smugness about having twin babies under three months old capable of sleeping through the night came back to slap me in the face last night. Because when you have four children, it doesn’t matter if they’re all good sleepers. On any given night, there is a pretty good chance that at least one of them will be ill/have had a big nap in the afternoon meaning they’re not tired/have bad dreams – delete as appropriate. In the early hours of this morning – at about 12:30 in fact – it was son number two’s turn. He woke up screaming, so I rushed downstairs to find he’d had a nightmare, and refused to go back to his own bed. In my semi-comatose state, I was defenseless against his demands to come into our bed. Cue virtually no sleep for the rest of the night as he wriggled, rolled over, continually whacked me in the face with an errant arm, and kneed me in the back. And just as I was thinking that I might get a couple of hours of peace at around half past five, who should awaken but baby number 2/son number 4, the model baby who never wakes up before 7am, who had taken it upon himself to choose this morning from hell to get the munchies an hour and a half ahead of schedule. Incidentally, upon further quizzing this morning, it turns out that the nightmare had involved Elmo and a cat – hardly the most threatening of protagonists, you’d have thought.

If I didn’t have enough excuses to feel like wreck before, I certainly bloody do now. I need a break, which in other circumstances would be an example of extremely fortuitous timing, given that a three-day weekend will be upon us in a matter of hours. But in the chaotic world that is a house with four small children, something tells me this particular May Day break is not going to be all that restful.