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On sickness and on health

16th November 2009

It’s been literally seconds since my last blog but something has happened that has moved me to post this, post haste.

Readers of this blog may have picked up from my last and last but one post that I have been of late a tad under the weather; fluey, coldy, pasty, pale and puffy, I’ve also been short of breath and might even have lost a bit of weight. Not one to complain (erm…) I’ve been battling on, the trojan that I am. However having been unable to walk for more than ten minutes without feeling under the weather, I decided that this unprecedented and vaguely worrying bout of ill-health should be investigated with a trip to the doctor.

“Say ahhhh” said the kindly Eastern European lady. “Any sinus pain? Chest pain? Your tonsils look inflamed. Roll up your sleeve please.” After a few minutes she suggested I go next door for a blood test. It was all over in five minutes. “Call us on Friday,” said the doctor. “Your results should be in then.”

Continuing to feel below par my week unfolded in a low-key fashion; writing articles, missing football again and meeting my friend Rip Rupley for an outrageously disgusting curry. Other than the curry I did my best to get healthy: plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus vitamin pills. I also took to starting the day with a Berocca. I could only find ‘Berocca Tropical’. That stuff makes your piss glow in the dark.

Thinking that I’d forget to ring on Friday I set my phone alarm to remind me. I often write phone reminders to myself for seemingly obvious or ridiculous things, and they go off throughout the day. This can be embarrassing. A few years ago during a cricket match one my of teammates came strolling out of the changing room clutching my phone. “Hey everyone,” he said. “Don’t forget to remind Saul he has to buy a new pair of moccasins from M&S.”

The phone alarm went off on the Friday and I rang the doctors.

“Hi. I had a blood test on Tuesday. The doctor said the results would be in today. I’m just checking they’re OK.”
“It’s probably a bit early for them to be back, Mr Wordsworth. Let me just check…Ah yes…If you could come in that would be good.”

I happen to know that if they’re fine, the receptionist will tell you.

“Oh. When should I come?”
“How about today?”
“Today? Oh right. I could do that. I could probably come in now.”
“Now. Yes. That’s good. We can fit you in.”

They wanted me in today and could fit me in? It’s not usually this easy. Nervously I grabbed my jacket and drove down.

“Just take a seat Mr Wordsworth. Shouldn’t be long.”

She looked concerned. Didn’t she? Overly sympathetic, perhaps? She was certainly treating me well. Inordinately well, in fact. That’s what they do with people who have something serious. You know. Like cancer.

I sat in the waiting room. I’d brought nothing to read. There were no magazines. Disco leg set in. My mind ran wild.

Clearly something’s come up in the test. The receptionist is being too kind for comfort. She might have even looked a bit teary. Perhaps she was thinking, ‘That poor man. So young and handsome, so much life ahead of him…and now THIS’.

I got up and paced the room.

Perhaps these will be the last moments before my life changes irrevocably. Maybe, as is my greatest fear, I will not have the chance to fulfill my destiny and will instead be cut down in my prime. The good always die young. These could be my last minutes of freedom after which I shall become trapped in an endless cycle of hospitals and treatment, followed by a slow but inexorable decline and a final, agonising and protracted exit.

My name flashed up on the screen.

“Come in Mr Wordsworth, have a seat,” said the locum. “It says here that you came in a few days ago complaining of being short of breath.”

For fuck’s sake, she hasn’t even been tipped off by the receptionist that I’m dying

“Yes,” I said. “The doctor sent me for a blood test. I rang this morning to get the results, and the receptionist said I had to come in.”
“Oh, right,” said the locum. “Let me just have a look…”

I don’t have a will. SHIT, I DON’T HAVE A WILL. I want to leave everything to Joan, plus maybe a a percentage to my half-bro. Will a signed letter pass for a will, in case my time is too short?

“Won’t be a moment…”

All my friends and family will crawl out of the woodwork and visit me on my death bed. All that sympathy. I’ll be surrounded by love and affection. Just before my death, I will truly begin to live…

“Everything seems to be fine, Mr Wordsworth.”
“That said, you’ve got a raised allergy level. Do you suffer from allergies?”
“You’re telling me I’m fine? Do you realise what been happening here? I’ve been fucking shitting myself since the receptionist told me I had to come in. And it’s all over some allergy reading?”
“Oh, sorry about that. You’ve probably just got some stupid virus.”

What a big, fat relief. Did I really think I was seriously ill? Not exactly, but your mind does play tricks on when you’re sat in a waiting room waiting on irregular blood test results. Nope, this was definitely good news. Something niggled, however. It was the locum. I didn’t much care for her demeanour and wasn’t particularly impressed by the medical term “stupid virus”.

What happened next, in the context of her being a doctor, was truly flabbergasting. She wiped her nose with the palm of her hand in an upwards motion such that if she’d continued the movement, she would have greased her own hair with snot. Just like the kids’ joke, “Dad, why is your hair green?” “Dunno, son,” says the father, as the joke-teller makes the exact same motion with his hand.

“Here. Take this form and come back in two months for a follow-up test.”

I held the form by its edge and drove home.