But have you tried eating mummified flesh?

One of the recovery strategies the doctors gave me for chronic fatigue was tracking my step count as a proxy for the amount of physical activity I can do in a day. “It’s not exact,” one of the doctors said. “You could spend a day on a stool painting a wall, and obviously your steps wouldn’t reflect that.”

I haven’t painted any walls since I got sick. But I have tracked my steps every day since January 2018.
Chronic fatigue syndrome 2019 step count recovery strategy

The first half of the chart shows a clear upward trend. The second half gets messier. There’s a lot more up and down. Some days are great. I broke a new post-illness step count record in September. I just never know when I wake up if it will be a good day or a flu-y, brain-fogged struggle.

I have high and low energy (the ‘boom and bust’ characteristic of chronic fatigue) on a day-to-day level, but I also now seem to have it on a macro level. I’ll have six terrible weeks, and then four pretty good weeks. So depending on when you talk to me, I might say that I’m feeling despondent about how ill I still am, or excited about how much better I’m getting. Both are accurate.

What I am feeling genuinely great about is that I’m alive and ill in Australia in the 2000s, and not in, say, Europe in the 1400s, when the cure-all craze was mummified human flesh.

Medieval Europeans believed that ground up human mummy could be consumed or even applied directly to wounds to cure everything from nausea to epilepsy. It grew so popular that Egypt began to run short of mummies, and entrepreneurs in Europe started taking bodies from cemeteries to create their own mumia.

This completely ineffectual health fad went on for hundreds of years, and I can just imagine, if I’d lived in Europe back then, how many well-intentioned people would have gotten in touch with me to ask if I’d tried treating my chronic fatigue with mumia.

And the thing is, I definitely would have tried it.


7 ways to tell if your neighbours are trying to eat you

Houses full of neighbours potentially planning to kill you, who knows?
I use the term ‘neighbours’ loosely. Because the collapse of modern civilisation means most of us no longer have a fixed address, it’s hard to describe the people you encounter in your day-to-day scavenging as neighbours. Let’s use the term to mean “people in your general vicinity at any given moment.”

How watchful should you be around these people? Very. Here’s some tips to help you determine if any might be sizing you up for dinner.

  1. They attack you with weapons.

This is obvious, but it’s easy to forget to stay on guard for it. Likely you were raised to be “civil” to others, and this is often your first instinct. When you see another human with a weapon, run! If necessary, you can reassess the situation from a safe distance or hiding place. Remember, the end of civilization means the end of being civil – your survival depends on your vigilance!

  1. They are overly friendly.

This could mean they’re trying to earn your trust, get you comfortable and then, when your back is turned, smash in your skull with that baseball bat that you noticed casually leaning against a corner of their cardboard shack.

  1. You saw them eating someone else.

Yes, there is a vogue for eating human corpses now, and maybe that was all they were doing, eating someone who died of natural causes. Many of us now accept this – why let good protein go to waste?

The trouble is it’s not so far a leap from eating dead humans to killing live ones. Do you know whether that hunk of meat was dead when they found it? If you see neighbours making elbow stew or brainwiches, get away before they eat the last of that tasty, tasty corpse.

  1. You saw them kill someone else.

Don’t get it in your head they won’t do the same to you. It’s easy to believe your skills in the pre-collapse world have some value now. But if you start thinking, “I just have to introduce myself as a urologist and they’ll recognize the importance of my medical knowledge and experience,” you will soon be someone’s lunch. These people are hungry, and that is a much more pressing concern than those red spots on their genitals. Get away while you still can.

  1. They’re wearing a bear skull as a headpiece.


  1. They pretend to die in the street.

Don’t be fooled. Everyone knows fresh meat is the best meat, so pretending to die is a great way to lure unsuspecting people close – and then leap up and attack them. If you spy a corpse or see a person collapse, approach with caution. One way to test if that body is really dead is to pelt it with rocks from a safe distance.

  1. You have neighbours.

The most important sign – why are those people hanging around? They may be tailing you to find your source of food so they can steal it from you. Or they may be tailing you as a source of food.

While you’re trying to avoid your murderous neighbours, you need to feed yourself! No worries. Here’s some handy tips on how to cook and eat your pets.