Tip Toe Flu the Work Sick

July 3, 2009

There is a bizarre male fantasy.  It’s bizarre because it doesn’t involve sex.  I’m as inclined to relive this  fantasy as any other man.

It goes something like this:  I feel very ill indeed.  It could be flu but somehow this just feels worse and so I decide to get medical assistance.  I struggle manfully to get to the doctor’s surgery through cold sweats and blurred vision.  As soon as I arrive the receptionist looks at me in complete horror.  “Oh my god!” she says “you look terrible.  We must get a doctor to see you straight away.”  “But” I say while I survey a waiting room full of equally concerned looking patients “all of these people have been waiting and I’m sure they’re in just as much need of attention as me.”  The receptionist is convinced my need is much greater than everyone elses, even the other people in the waiting room agree.  For a while I resist her offer to jump the queue – I am British after all – but eventually I feel too weak to deflect her pleading and so I agree to see the doctor immediately.

I walk into the doctor’s office and he is immediately shocked by my deathly appearance.  He rushes to help me into a chair and then he runs some tests.  “You shouldn’t even be able to stand, never mind walk into a doctor’s surgery!” he exclaims.  He continues to check me out all the while shaking his head in disbelief at my incredible stoicism.

It turns out I have a rare and ultimately fatal disease.  A lesser man than me would be dead by now.  No one else has survived this illness for more than a few hours.  But the medical experts agree that with my incredible strength and will power I could live for a few weeks.  I am a medical enigma.

I am also a fucking idiot.

I’m only too aware of what the reality would be if I ever went to the doctor’s.  A two-hour wait in a waiting room full of pregnant women, sad-eyed elderly people and angry toddlers who do nothing but run about and scream at the top of their lungs (the toddlers that is – the pregnant and elderly, not so much).  A surly receptionist who can’t say anyones name properly which just makes me paranoid and anxious because I suspect that my name has been called and I just didn’t hear it because she’d translated it into a series of sighs and low mumbles.  Surely my name must have been called by now.  Finally when I do see a doctor they spend most of their time looking at their desk only occasionally shaking their head in disbelief that I’m wasting their time with this shit.  They then sarcastically offer to prescribe paracetamol.  Yeah, thanks.

In my mind I’m Captain Oates (“I’m going to the doctor’s.  I might be some time.”) but it seems in reality I’m a sweating, feeble-voiced hypochondriac.

Now this sounds like I’m complaining about doctor’s but I’m really not.  I’m pretty healthy for a slob.  I don’t really need to go to the doctors and so I don’t.  This is a good thing.  And I’m sure I’m not the only person who has learnt not to bother doctors with untreatable viruses.

So how in the hell do people work out they’ve got swine flu?

This has recently appeared on my radar because this week two of my colleagues were quarantined with swine flu.

In fact it’s a bit weirder than that: one of them came down ill last Thursday in the office with a fever, I came down with a nasty cold over the weekend, and now this week I find out that person has swine flu.

Did that son of a bitch give me swine flu?  Have I now got swine flu?

The rational part of my brain is convinced I don’t while the paranoid part of my brain, the bit that delights in making my life a bit spicier, says au contraire.

Rational me knows I haven’t been sufficently ill to have flu, while stupid me reckons I’m such a fucking hard arse I can have flu and barely even notice.  “Yeah I once had a day off with testicular cancer but I cured myself by punching myself repeatedly in the balls.  I BEAT CANCER! – LITERALLY! – WITH! MY! FISTS!!!”

But I still find myself on the NHS Direct website using what Microsoft would describe as a “troubleshooting wizard” to try and diagnose myself with swine flu.

That brings me to another thing: NHS Direct is a wonderful piece of doublespeak isn’t it?  The whole raison d’etre for NHS “Direct” is to keep you as far away as possible from over-worked doctors and hospital staff while simultaneously appearing to bring you closer.  If there was a Fire Engine Direct website it’d probably show you a picture of some fire and ask you if what you have in your house looks like fire.  If it looks like fire you should call for a fire engine.  If it doesn’t look like fire then there might still be fire so you should speak to a fire specialist.

Anyway, the wizard seems to say that I don’t have swine flu.  Probably.

Fuck it – I’ll keep going to work and make my colleagues ill anyway.  I never did like those bastards.

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