I went to the doctor later yesterday afternoon. I was the last patient and had to wrangle with the receptionist for her to keep the lights on.
The doctor is a pale wearily posh bloke. He ushers me into his room with the heavy exhausted boredom of the British GP. Adorning his spare chair is a trainee who is rather too old for her hairdo. Pigtails. She too looks terminally bored. Immediately I feel mollified for bothering them in their orgy of ennui.
I am a doctor’s daughter. I want them to know I understand basic general practice. I am not your ordinary punter patient. Oh nooo.. I grew up in a place where people died of cerebral malaria in three days..where friends were gored by buffalo….I have shot films in HIV/AIDS hospices. I know about sickness.
‘I am stupid tired’. I say. Its not going well.
Doc nods patiently. I can almost hear him thinking about the chardonnay in his fridge.
I rethink tactics. First always start with an apology based on the doctor’s default assumption that you are a raging hypochondriac.
‘I am sorry to bother you.’ I get into my stride pretty quickly. ‘I am sure I am absolutely fine but the symptoms came on very quickly last week and I can’t shake them and I just want to rule out any potential parasites including Bilhazia and Giadiasis as I was in Zambia last February. Oh…. and you should know that I have a bad reaction to Flagyll. It makes me hallucinate. There was this one time when I was being treated for amoebic dysentery and they gave me Flagyll! It was hilarious….I wondered around the house locking everyone in their rooms for safety thinking we were being attacked by thieves ..my mother had to follow me around unlocking stuff… I mean I know its not dysentery… obviously,… I am not lying on the floor howling..I am sure it is just a low level thing… not malaria..although I did have that years ago..well anyway…perhaps a blood disorder.. I did have tick fever as a child and something similar recurred in 2002 after I was in contact with bacterial meningitis…’
I trail off. The doctor still hasn’t blinked but now I can see the whites of his eyes. Behind him the woman doc has picked up a scalpel and is trying to hide it under her stethoscope.
‘Ahh..I..er…maybe..anaemia due to a blood dis…’,I start hopefully
Sweat has broken out on the pale doc’s forehead. The other one has distinctly white knuckles.
‘Errmm…I..am ..perhaps I am just getting a cold… ‘ I smile reassuringly at them. ‘You know what..I am sure it’s absolutely nothing. Heh ho. The weather’s been atrocious and all that eh? That’s it. Just a cold. ‘
I edge out of the room with a prescription for paracetomol and just manage to spring for the door before the receptionist locks it behind me. They must have telephoned through.
Strangely I feel absolutely fine now. I AM a raging hypochondriac after all. What a relief! Embarrassed yes but also refreshed and energised. I don’t even need the paracetomol. I feel like dancing. And then I notice that I have left my handbag behind…