Sir: I’ve got that farm-life immune system, you know? I’ve got the kind of macrophages that wear steel-toed boots and carry chaw. I’ve got the kind of robust immune response that comes from growing up with mud under my fingernails, manure under my boots and not a band-aid in sight.
“Rub some mud on it” was only half a joke where I come from. My white blood cells are so tough, so muscle-bound and intimidating, that they might as well retire and run a protection racket on their reputation alone.
They could get streptococcus to do the legwork, I bet.
I just don’t get the flu.
Except of course, when I visit the doctor’s office.
My old doctor, Dr. Miram Tariq, fled C-K for greener pastures and left me in the lurch. I was notified of her plans via snail mail which would have been fine except I had just moved and didn’t read the letter until it was too late to be proactive. With a very personal and very important (don’t tell my macrophages) prescription to fill and doses running low I began a three-day odyssey of phone call after phone call after frustrating phone call with well-meaning but ineffective health-care professionals. In the end, I learned that because of the urgency, my only choices were the ER or a walk-in clinic.
Next time use the fibre please, doctor.
The wait was short. The doctor was digital. The experience was great. The prescription was filled. The Odyssey over. Before I even started my car in parking lot outside, however a new Homeric chapter was writing itself. I felt a scratch in my throat. Three hours later it was a burn. By midnight I was melting like a sugar cube and deliriously cursing the sweet, sweet free health care while my immune system fought the good fight.
Are clinics dirty? Not really. Should I have gotten a flu shot? Maybe. But the irony of this comedy of errors is bottomless. When you get the flu from touching a door pasted with “beware the flu!” propaganda, one starts to wonder where the Orwellian parallels end.
This isn’t outrage you hear in my voice. It’s incredulity. It’s a manure-eating smile and a shrug so deep I may have dislocated both of my hypothetical shoulders.
What to do except bear it? First world problems? Maybe, but sure as my sweaty bed sheets I did not feel like a first-class client of the health-care system. I felt like an afterthought. I felt abandoned. I felt like chattel because after convincing me that I needed their pills (and I do) they proceeded to drop me off a cliff on a paper airplane and the fall was almost as bad as the withdrawal would have been.