Liam Farrell: Antibiotics, sick notes and the afterlife

I don't usually talk to The Dead, though I do have a soft spot for them; they're not covered by our contract so we are not at their immediate beck and call, like we are for everyone else.

But Joe was an exception; just as in our consultations while he was alive, I knew he’d slobber and threaten and bluster and cry and whinge and whine until he eventually got his own way. It would have been easier to ignore blood in my urine.

He was wearing the traditional ghostly white shift, though, being Joe, the white shift already looked a bit stretched and grubby. Tomato sauce stains streaked down the front, and the fragrance of fried onions graced the air. Joe was obviously getting the kind of heaven he had always desired.

‘I told you…’ he started, then stopped.

‘I TOLD YOU…’ he continued, changing his timbre in an effort to appear more ghostly, obviously something they get taught on day one in Ghost School (in the same way that Surgical School encourages clipped tones, a big shiny car, and a smirk).

‘Before you go on,’ I interrupted, ‘I know what you’re going to say; "I told you I was sick". You needn’t bother, Spike Milligan has already done it.’

‘YEAH, YEAH, ALRIGHT,’ he said, with a petulance not usually associated with the sepulchral tones of The Dead. ‘BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE GIVEN ME AN ANTIBIOTIC; AND SENT ME FOR AN X-RAY.’

‘So what can I do for you?’ I said, the antibiotic prescription already half-written (it usually saves time).

‘THERE’S NO DOCTORS HERE,’ said Joe.

I speculated that (a) doctors don’t get into heaven because the gods don’t like us (people trust us and we are such a big hit with the girls), or more likely (b) a doctor’s heaven doesn’t include patients like Joe.

‘GOD INSISTS WE TURN UP REGULARLY FOR ADORATION AND WORSHIP AND STUFF, USUALLY WHEN THE HORSE RACING IS ON,’ said Joe.

‘Inconvenient,’ I admitted.

'YEAH, IT CAN BE A REAL PAIN SOMETIMES - AND SHE DOESN’T LOOK A BIT LIKE MORGAN FREEMAN,’ he said. ‘SO, I WAS WONDERING, MAYBE A SICK NOTE?’

As on earth, so shall it be in heaven, I thought.

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

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