That’s Not Swine Flu, That’s… Um… Hey, Nice Weather We’re Having!

July 1, 2009 at 8:05 am (Uncategorized)

I had my stitches out today. It was my first time. As the doctor (more on that in a minute) said, I was a stitch virgin. I’ve never had stitches in my whole life, not for anything. This is amazing to me because I am a real butter-fingered, Lucille Ball-style, slapstick klutz. I routinely fall over. I constantly crack my skull against anything I can find to charge into headfirst. Actually, I backed into the car just this past Saturday and whacked the back of my head so hard against the door frame that I got a severe frontal lobe headache. But no stitches. Llew was amazed. This unblemished scar-free tissue of mine mostly reveals my scaredy-cat tendencies, I think. I’ve never and will never pack a scrum, unlike my husband. I’m not so big on the contact sports. And I don’t like violence or, come to think of it, danger. I’d go so far as to say I’m extremely injury avoidant, despite the constant wipeouts and near concussions. So the stitches and the knowledge of potential scarring… that was all very much new territory for me. I somehow hadn’t figured on actual scars.

Anyway, I called my regular doctor, Dr J, to make the appointment to get the stitches out. You know Dr J – I like her a lot. But Dr J is away for the month. Crisis. I’ve lost my stitch virginity, and she’s not even going to be there for me to help me with my post-stitch remorse! I was so bummed. This also created a new problem: who would be taking these things out? Dr F, who put them in, is also away. And since he’s a specialist, it gets expensive going to see him when any GP would do. I had to suck it up, but not too much because otherwise it hurts.

Yesterday I went into one surgery and explained the situation. I was looking to make an appointment for today as per my post-op instructions.

“Our doctors are away too,” the receptionist said.

“What’s going on? Are they all away together? Is this some kind of doctor/patient hide and seek?”

“We only have one locum,” she said. “So… nope, we can’t help you either. Try up the road.”

I walked up the road. There was another surgery. When I went up to the desk the receptionist scowled at me.

“Hello,” I said, and yes I did give her a big Please Like Me and Be Nice to Me smile, to zero effect. “My regular doctor is away, Dr J, and I need some stitches taken out.”

Her frown deepened.

“Who put the stitches in?” she demanded.

“Dr F,” I gestured vaguely. “Around the corner. Beach Babies.”

(I’m not even making that up. That’s honestly what it’s called.)

“Then he should be the one removing them.”

“Oh,” I said hurriedly, “but, um, it says to go to a regular doctor. Maybe because he’s a specialist. And, um, he’s gone away now.”

Her whole face shrivelled up into a mask of tight fury. I slowly took one step back from the desk. But I needn’t have worried. She pulled her chair in and started thumping at keys on the keyboard in front of her, glaring at the screen.

“I was just wanting to make an appointment for tomorrow,” I said apologetically. “That’ll be seven days.”

She narrowed her eyes at the screen.

“Then just come back tomorrow.”

“Don’t I need to make an appoint–”

“Just come back tomorrow.”

Meanie!! What a meanie!! So I skulked out of there and went straight to the patisserie. I felt better after a warm almond croissant, but I was still terrified of returning today. I was nearly trembling when I approached the desk, but to my vast surprise, when I went through the whole thing again and then said, “I came in yesterday,” she smiled at me.

There, now. Was that so hard?

“Yes,” she said. “What was your name? Address? Date of birth?”

In the end I got in there to see Dr L without an appointment way, way faster than I’ve ever been able to see Dr J with one. Dr J’s waiting room is like a wormhole. Things happen in there with time and space that just cannot be explained. But this whole no appointment approach at Dr L’s, well, we were just zipping along. Speaking of zips, he removed the smiley face stitches while making hilarious jokes about my age and a loud ticking clock.

“Yeah,” I said. “Ha ha. Ho ho.”

No, really. That’s a good ‘un, doc.

But then he did tell me something pretty crazy. Apparently the NSW Health Dept. had just been on the phone telling him to stop diagnosing swine flu and to stop giving swine flu vaccinations.

“Why would they do that? That sounds… um, pretty reprehensible.”

“It’s so they can say numbers of diagnoses are down. No problem here!”

“Really? That’s extraordinary.”

“It is extraordinary,” Dr L agreed, merrily snipping away. “I just can’t understand it. But they were my instructions.”

“From the government? The Health Department? This is seriously what they told you?”

“The NSW Department of Health, yes. On the phone. Just now.”

Great. So, let me get this straight. The state government can’t meet the demand for the swine flu vaccine, so they’re now trying to diddle the numbers so it looks like demand can be revised down? WOW. Does that not strike you as totally ethically bankrupt? I’m just amazed that this is apparently current policy, and that they’re calling doctors and telling them this. I mean, I think our current state government is the most inept pack of halfwits the world has ever seen, with the possible exception of the Bush federal administration in the US – I don’t know, it’s too close to call, they’re going to be neck ‘n’ neck in the history books – but even I’m surprised by this new low. No, no, you don’t need the swine flu vaccine, dear old Mrs Peabody. You just need… um, let’s see, what have we got here… how about some laughing gas? Care for a lozenge? Maybe a Mickey Mouse bandaid on that widdle boo boo? Incredible!

Here it is already another 1,000 words in and I’ve not even told you about finishing The Selected Works of T.S Spivet and Always Liza to Me. And I still haven’t told you my pot luck risotto recipe from Monday night, which I think you’ll enjoy and feel emboldened by (unexpected successes are so freeing in the kitchen, I think). And I haven’t told you about the latest Lady Alzheimer chat. So there’s much to discuss, and I’ll see you tomorrow.



  1. Lilian Nattel said,

    That is seriously scary about NSW and swine flu, Di–it is reprehensible, short-sighted and will come back to bite them in the butt. But your search for stitch-removers etc was so much fun to read. I’m still having my first coffee and only half awake, but it got me from 3/4 asleep to 1/2!

  2. litlove said,

    Wow. Terrifying. The doctors are desperate to get my mother onto high blood pressure pills, which she doesn’t need, because if she becomes a patient whose blood pressure they have ‘lowered’ they get extra cash. This is nowhere near as foolish or reprehensible as lying about swine flu, but it’s another example of this crazy, dangerous target mentality.

    Glad to hear you are now stitch free, despite the gorgon on reception.

  3. doctordi said,

    Well, Lilian, I am very flattered to be one of the First Coffee of the Day reads and to assist your transitional phase in any way I can! I’m never sure if these things are as fun to read as they are funny to experience, so I’m very glad to know in this case at least it’s held your interest. I am pretty gobsmacked by the vaccine thing, but I sent a text to Darkling Deb, who is a proper news journo unlike myself (SOFT: travel, art, books), and she said she’s going to look into it today, BUT said, “I understand the national downgrade from ‘quarantine’ to ‘protect’ means drugs should only be prescribed for genuine risk VS general prevention, thus protecting supplies in case of more powerful mutation. Maybe your doctor added his own spin!”

    He found himself pretty entertaining, so this seems quite likely to me.

    But then we get to Litlove’s story, and I am completely appalled yet again. Oh my god! Are you sure that’s not as foolish and reprehensible as lying about swine flu?! I’m not sure – I think that’s very dodgy indeed. Medicating people who don’t need or shouldn’t be encouraged to take on-going medication is a growing problem – who did I know when I was in primary and high school who was taking prescription drugs other than birth control?! Virtually nobody! – but this confirms that ugly suspicion that the whole prescription epidemic reeks of cash.

  4. Joan Barrett said,

    Sorry I got behind in reading- I can’t believe that you can just whip up such great posts and have a life, too. My sympathies on your having a nimrod government- we are excited at the possibility of regaining some of our IQ points now that the dumbshit Bush is gone but I still have nightmares. Now we wonder what Palin’s up to….Hope you’re feeling better.

  5. doctordi said,

    Hi Joan – nice to have you back! And thanks for the lovely compliment… although I think I cheat, because my posts are largely *about* my life! I was wondering about Palin – honest – just yesterday. I’m still mourning the commemorative mug my friend Patrick sent me that my husband misplaced somewhere between collecting the parcel from the post box and meeting me after work (I JUST CAN’T LET IT GO!!!!!), plus you just have to worry when someone like that goes very, very quiet. As for Bush, it’s that TWO TERM legacy of idiocy that weighs heavily on you guys, I think… No one admits to voting him in for a second term, but somehow – inconceivably, from my point of view – it happened anyway. I think that shook everyone’s faith. But hope springs eternal.

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