Conversations with the weekend doctor

3/10/2013 12:14:00 pm

At first I was confused, because she was wearing tracksuit pants, and I didn't think medical doctors did that. Doctors of science, yes, but they're a different breed entirely. I thought that maybe she was the weekend receptionist, ushering me into the room where the doctor would be, but when we got into the room it was devoid of anyone more distinguished looking.

Without making eye contact, she motioned toward a chair and asked in a too-soft voice, "What can I do for you today?" In reply, I rasped, "I think I have laryngitis, and I'm supposed to be going to work tomorrow and I think I will need a medical certificate." And also, though I didn't feel it necessary to add in, I have a 5000 word assignment due tomorrow that I have not yet started because yesterday and the day before I wondered if perhaps I might be dying.

She began to fiddle with a mobile phone that was strung on a lanyard around her neck and said nothing.

"My neck hurts, and my joints ache. I have a cough, yesterday it was productive, today it is dry, and my throat is so sore it hurts to cough." Still she said nothing.

She continued to fiddle, wordless, until she managed to switch on a light on the end of the phone. "Let's have a look."

I opened my mouth and from a distance, she peered at my throat. "It's red, but it's probably just a virus."

I nodded in agreement.

"I'll give you some antibiotics."

I said nothing, biting back my urge to ask her if she would listen to my chest to ensure no sign of bronchitis, or to feel my neck and confirm that the extreme pain on one side was due to my enlarged lymph nodes. I bit back the urge to ask her to you know... something.

She wrote a medical certificate, wrongly identifying me as 'Mr' and spelling my 5-letter surname incorrectly.

"I've been taking ibuprofen for the pain.... is that going to help... or is there something else I can do?"

She replied, "The antibiotics will probably make you feel better."

She pushed the Medicare chit towards me, and I signed. Clutching my medical certificate, I left, still wondering if perhaps it was all a big mistake and I was going to see the real doctor soon.

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