Doctor No

I’m at the doctors again. I am always in this waiting room with the leaflets about Alzheimers and posters about caring for the elderly. I see one for Meningitis. It lists all of the warning signs but a lot of the symptoms are the same as a cold or flu, except for the rash – although you don’t have to display a rash to be in the clutches of Meningitus, so altogether it’s very alarming.

I came here at least once a week when Mayhem was little. Milk thought it was the library because we read so many books. But this time I am here for myself and I am alone. Milk and Mayhem are with the grandparents, and I am using my precious child-free time to sit in a room full of sick people. When my name is called I hardly recognise it; no one really says my name anymore.

I’m not seeing my usual doctor. I couldn’t get an appointment with him, because everyone wants to see him. I’m looking at a new doctor. This one has wild grey hair, is tall and slim and has piercing blue eyes and a wonky nose.

I explain to her I had a mole removed and I’m worried it is infected. I peel off my top and she takes a quick look.

“Nope that’s fine. A little bit sore perhaps but that’s normal. Have you taken pain killers?”

“You mean paracetamol? I take them just to get through each day,” I smile.

“You really shouldn’t.”

“No, I was joking.”

She stares at me. “Anything else?”

“Yes. I have swollen fingers.”

“It is hot.”

“No. No, this happened before it got hot, when everyone was moaning about it being cold.”

She looks at my hands, and then her eyes run over my body.

“Right. It could be lack of movement, it could be diet, or it could be both of those.”

She is saying I am a lazy fat cow.

“Do you have a good diet?” She prompts, seemingly unaware that my silence is hostile.

I am honest. “Not really. It’s not terrible but I certainly don’t have my five a day.”

“What I find is that if you don’t buy bad things, or have bad things in the house, then you don’t tend to eat them.” She smiles.

Maybe she got that crook in her nose from someone hitting her in the face.

I shake my head. “I don’t sit at home and eat biscuits if that’s what you mean.”

She nodds. “If you do want to eat biscuits then making your own is a good idea as then you know what goes into them.”

“I don’t sit at home eating biscuits.” I repeat and my voice catches in my throat.

“What you needs is the Mediterranean diet. That’s great I’ll print some notes off.”

She hands me the list of things I should eat to deflate myself.

“If the swelling continues, once this hot weather has passed, I suggest you come back and see me.”

I get up.

“How old is your little one?”

“I have two.”

“Oh so you haven’t got much time for baking then?”

I shrug. The damage is done. She can’t crawl back to humanity now.

“Anything else?”

I want to say lots more, like how I feel sick and dizzy from being so tired, that I cry most nights about what would happen if I lost my family, and that I want to go vegetarian but I can’t stop eating meat. But I am laden down with notes on oily fish and moderate red wine consumption, so I leave and go and sit in the car and cry there instead.

When I next have some free time, I think I’ll go to the dentist.

Author: Felicity Cousins


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