After three days in bed, I go to the doctor.
It’s a Saturday and the waiting room is quiet. A man is bobbing a baby up and down and staring out of the window. I take my glasses off and strain to see my pallid reflection in the lenses. It’s there, just.
The receptionist tells the man with the baby that the baby can see the doctor now. After they leave, she tells me that she’s sorry, it should have been my turn but the baby was an emergency so they go first.
I tell her that it’s ok, but I text my friend: A baby just jumped the queue. She replies as I’d hoped: wtf?
The selfish baby takes ages.
I use the time to get my story straight. Doctors – like police and passport control – make me feel like I’m lying. I worry that I’ll describe my symptoms incorrectly and be wildly misdiagnosed. I think about the clinic in Theme Hospital with the head-popping machine.
When my turn comes I tell the doctor I have a sore throat and earache and I thought it would go away but it hasn’t. And she says, Oh, earache. Like you’re a child again.
I say, Yeah, I’ve always had trouble with my ears.
She says, Mmmmm, probably narrow canals.
She looks at them with that instrument they have. She says, Yes, this one is very red.
She writes a prescription for antibiotics almost immediately, but spends another ten minutes giving me advice. After each piece of advice she says, If you do this, you’ll get better, quicker.
She says, Make a big pot of chicken soup.
She says, Don’t go outside.
She says, Drink lots of water.
She says, Not too many sweet things.
She recommends a brand of saline solution and takes me lovingly yet laboriously through every step of how I should squirt it up one nostril until it comes out of the other.
She says, Hot water and a little eucalyptus oil.
She says, Breathe it in, like your grandmother did.
She says, If you do this, you’ll get better, quicker.
And I believe her.
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