I was too beaten down by life to argue; I’d rather stick a pastry-fork in my eye than refuse Joe a sick note, since it would save trouble in the long run and probably be less painful. I clicked on the macro key I reserve for Joe’s sick-notes, so that all I have to fill in is the date and the spurious diagnosis, which varies according to whatever onerous duty Joe wishes to avoid.
‘Asthenia again?’ I said; it sounds more plausible than just writing pure lazy. As Jack Nicholson said, you can’t handle the truth.
But Joe was dissatisfied.
‘I’d prefer something more positive, more dramatic, more personal, doc. Let your imagination take flight like a swallow,’ he said. ‘Something like Donald Trump’s health report.’
That Donald Trump might be the next president of the the USA is a bewildering spectacle from this side of the world, but it has perhaps to be put in the context of Brexit and that £500 cajillion for the NHS whopper.
His campaign of poorly concealed envy and rancor and egotism has a painful logic; when you sell sausages you don’t wait hang around waiting for people to want sausages, you go out and make them hungry. When you want to appeal to intolerance and bigotry, you make people feel afraid and victimised. And as any con-artist will tell you, you can only con people who actually want to be conned.
Presidential candidates are apparently expected to release a note from their physician testifying to their fitness to fulfil the duties of the role. Donald Trump’s submission was as follows:
‘If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,’ wrote Dr Harold Bornstein. ‘His blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent... His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.’
I’m all for humanising medical language, too often we write in what one of my heroes, the great Michael O’Donnell, described as ‘decorated municipal gothic’. But, when asked to comment on Mr Trump's health report, ‘a spokesperson at the American Medical Association just giggled’.
‘I could always just write the truth Joe,’ I said.
‘Asthenia will do just fine,’ he said.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell