Elmo, will you be my doctor?

The only good part about having the flu is not having the flu. I know, it sounds self-evident. But, seriously,  after the vomiting and grossness and living in the bathroom and showering every hour just to feel like a person again and running out of drugs in the house and thinking that everything smells awful and food is a terrible thing you will never again consume, after all that you get to spend a day or two or five in bed (depending how sick you were, and what else you had to do that week that you now don’t have to do because “I have the flu” is a perfectly reasonable excuse that will get you out of anything). And then you start to feel better and you don’t have to live in the bathroom anymore, just near it, and you watch tv all day and maybe someone nice will bring you soup. And when all the sickness finally stops you just feel so damn good that it almost makes the whole flu-thing worth it. Not really. But still. We can try.

Having established all of that goodness after the badness, the worst thing that could possibly happen after the flu is that the symptoms Don’t. Go. Away. For three days you get the cozy no-longer-sick feeling, and then your body says HA! Joking. You don’t actually feel better. YES, you have to go back to work and sell swimming lessons to permanently-peeved mothers, and YES you have to write a 2500 word paper on something to do with phenomenology (yeah, that’s a thing in Philosophy but I don’t know what) because you don’t have the flu. But you still feel like shit. Congratulations. Life officially sucks.

So after three months of that (this is an entirely true story, just to be clear) you- and I mean I- wait on hold for half an hour and finally get an appointment at the student health clinic at your university. The German-seeming doctor looks at you, makes a list of your symptoms, and sends you to get blood taken. The next morning, you walk forty minutes (which does not improve the symptoms) to the hospital, where a bunch of people not looking at all sick but surely contagious and with deadly diseases sit beside you, and a very large male nurse announces that you have shitty veins. Lovely.

All that being done, you wait another ten days to see the German doctor. She looks at your lab results, declares you healthy, and gives you a look like why are you still here? You say, I’m glad I’m healthy doctor, but could you please explain my continued flu symptoms for the past four months?

The answer from the highly educated medical professional?

A shrug. Not a metaphorical shrug. A physical shrug.

Yup, just like Elmo.

Now, I didn’t go to medical school, and I haven’t taken any biology since grade 12, and I know I study philosophy and no one thinks that’s a real thing. But I’m pretty darn sure that there’s a biological reason for physical symptoms, and that the woman with four years of undergrad and another four+ years of medical school ought to be able to do more than just shrug at the patient.

And what ridiculous question does she ask me, as I’m leaving the office? Nothing other than

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Seriously? Seriously. Elmo would have been a better doctor.


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