‘A frightful fiend doth close behind me tread,’ he intoned morbidly. I examined him, because I Am Sometimes A Good Doctor, but could find nothing relevant, apart from an unusual crab-like carapace curled around his neck.
‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’ll run a few tests’, aware I was only postponing things for a few days, but you never know, a few therapeutic bloods might help, there is always the one-in-a-kajillion chance that something actually might turn up, maybe elevated basophils or something, and after a few days, things usually get better on their own.
Joe returned a few days later. No change, he said, still with the impending doom thing, then slowly collapsed onto the floor (slowly, so as not to hurt himself), screaming (in agony, I think, but possibly delight).
His abdomen became acutely distended, gouts of acid blood flew everywhere, quite ruining my Hush Puppies, and an alien head with the by-now traditional slavering jaws burst out.
In 20 years of being a family doctor, I've seen everything, so I tapped the key code for ‘parasitic infestation’, tempted the alien with a few volunteers from the waiting room, sedated it with intravenous diazepam (finding a vein was a bit tricky), gave it too much diazepam and had to resuscitate it, and stuffed it in the bottom drawer of the surgery fridge.
This was a safe option; whatever we put in the bottom drawer of the fridge, nothing ever comes out, it’s like the medical equivalent of a Black Hole, or a non-urgent referral to orthopaedic outpatients for back pain; it’s gone forever.
My receptionist peeped in the door. She’d heard the screaming, so was mildly interested as to its provenance; she has seen everything too. ‘I’ll get the mop,’ she said placidly.
Joe was still lying on the floor, pale and exsanguinating, but with an annoyingly satisfied I-told-you-I-was-sick look on his face.
‘The things you’ll do to get an antibiotic, Joe,’ I said.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell