Night falls on a rare complaint

Medical advances: they're great, fantastic, and you always know that someone somewhere is making a few quid out of them. But not only do they mean even more work for us, the ramifications spread far beyond the merely living. In one case, the implications for the ranks of the undead have been considerable.

'Ah, the children of the night ...' he started.

'Yeah yeah yeah, what beautiful music they make yaddyaddyadda,' I said, sitting well away, not from concern for my personal safety (a GP should never show fear) but a diet of fresh blood makes your breath stink like a dead otter, 'I'm a busy man Count, skip the theatrics.'

'I am in a most grave predicament,' he said, in a rich, deep voice which would be ideal for flogging complementary medicines (with real herbs!).

'This warfarin you prescribe so freely; so many of my clients are taking it that it is causing me considerable distress.'

'There, there,' I said, pretending to care and patting his knee, for even vampires deserve counselling, 'tell me about it.'

'I bite the neck, the blood flows, I lap it up with eager tongue, the blood clots, I stop; such is the way of Nosferatu. Now the bleeding does not stop, it runs and runs, and I am a vampire, if I see blood I must drink of it. I even bring along a first-aid kit, stick on a bandage to try and stop the bleeding,' he gave an embarrassed shrug, 'yet still I am putting on a little weight.'

'You aren't comfortable with your body,' 'I observed, comprehension dawning.

'Hence the big towers; you're compensating for something.'

'The ladies, how they used to love me, lying there in those come-to-bed nightdresses, the intoxicating scent of garlic filling the air. I love garlic, you know, it's a little joke of mine. How they would scream,' he whispered, 'how they would moan with rapture, and then next morning pretend they remembered but a nightmare. Now they scream only because I am become so fat I am squashing them. "Get your fat butt offa me, Porky," said one.'

'And it gets worse; when I transform into a bat, I am too heavy to take off, I flap and I flap and I flap but I remain squat on the ground; the children of the night, how they snigger and smirk. I now must climb the drainpipe, so undignified, what with the extra weight and all. Last night, the drainpipe came down; I have a pain in my chest, I'm breathless, I'm having palpitations and my ankles are unfashionably swollen.'

I examined him; the irony was thick.

'Your pulse,' I said, 'is irregularly irregular.'

- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh.

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