Liam Farrell: Ask away, but you may not like the answer

Joe had just received his weekly antibiotic prescription and I was looking forward to a blissful seven Joe-free days when he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.

‘I downloaded this from the NHS Choices website,’ he said.

There you go, I thought, even a weakness for online porn can have its Bright Side and can lead to many transferrable and employable skills. Joe might even have a career in the industry; not in front of the camera, of course, Joe never takes his black socks off, which probably disqualifies him.

‘According to them, there are a few questions I should ask you,’ he continued.

I’m familiar when the website, and the questions, all of which are laudable and beyond reproach and all obviously written by someone who thinks that GPs can spend a fortnight with each patient.

‘Ask away,’ I said.

‘Number 1,’ he said. ‘Are there other ways to treat my condition?’

‘Indeed there are,’ I said. ‘Almost certainly the best way would be to wait until it gets better on it’s own. Might take a long time, I admit, maybe 2-3 days.’

Joe shifted in his chair, a bit unhappy with the response.

‘Number 2; what do you recommend?’

‘That you wait and let it get better on its own.’

Joe could see a pattern emerging, and didn’t like the shape, but by this stage he was ‘so steeped in gore that to go back would be as bloody as go o’er’.

‘Number 3; Is there anything I can do to help myself?’

‘Indeed there is,’ I said, beginning to enjoy this. ‘Stop smoking, take regular exercise, cut down on alcohol, eat a balanced diet, don’t run away whenever you see a green vegetable, find a job, move out of your mother’s house, generally get a life. Any other questions?’

Joe was more hesitant by now.

‘Number 4; do I need to come back and see you?’ he read.

‘Joe,’ I said, ‘though it breaks my heart, I must set you free; to paraphrase the great Jane Austen, you have delighted me long enough.’

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell

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