Unemployed? How did that happen?

When was the last time you really indulged a cold? I rarely sign anyone off for snot and yet…

It started with a sore throat on my last day in Kathmandu. At the airport I was sneezing. By Oman I had a streaming nose, eased only by a profound spell of shopping and 20 Strepsils.

The 10 hours from Oman to London were hell for all those within snot range — the whole of economy class, thanks to Gulf Air’s excellent air conditioning. Actually I don’t suppose business class were left untouched either, even though I imagine they get the air first.

I tried, as one does when the nose is red and the only tissues are napkins purloined from Costa Coffee, to sink unobtrusively into my seat and bury myself in the inflight entertainment.

Sadly, my neighbour spurred by the apparently delightful irony of finding a sick doctor, entertained me with piercing questions and loud observations from the moment we left Muscat, through the whole of the Heathrow stacking system, right up to the point where he had to go through a different immigration channel to mine and his had a queue.

It was worse than emergency surgery with a headache. Doctors should never admit to ailments. The rest of the world feels such glee, as if 1,000 consultations during which antibiotics were withheld reach payback time. I reached home shattered and smelling of menthol, and fell grottily into bed.

There was one small reprieve. I discovered that the surgery that has employed me as an assistant for the last few months had forgotten me and appointed someone else to my job during my brief absence. So, unemployed, I could finally curl up with my own cold in peace.

We doctors are so stoical that to hide in bed with a mug of tea and a chesty cough is almost socially unacceptable. But here I am, wallowing. I think in future I’ll give a week for snot.

Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk.

You can write to her at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

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