Thursday, 16 January 2014

When do you go to the doctors?

Right now, I'll be honest with you, you all sound like Daleks to me.  I sound like a Dalek to me. I should probably go to the doctors but it IS getting better.  Kind of.

I assume everyone has 'rules' about when they go to the doctors.  For me it's if I've got the sort of temperature that no amount of over-the-counter drugs seem able to bring down.  Or if I physically can't move because of a severe pain somewhere in my body.  Or, failing that, if something 'a bit odd' (maybe like everyone sounding like Daleks for nearly 10 days) goes on for 'too long'.  The 'too long' bit depends on how odd the oddness is.

I was a pretty sickly kid, especially at primary school.  There are an embarrassingly large amount of photos from my childhood of a very pale and pasty looking child laid up on the sofa with pillows and a blanket, smiling 'bravely' at the camera.  Why my parents felt the need to document my sickness in this way I cannot imagine. Unless it was simply that I was ill so often it was impossible to avoid.

I'd go to the doctors as a child and be given a bottle of sweet yellow medicine.  They said it was banana flavour but that's because grown ups don't really think kids know anything about anything and so they're comfortable telling those sort of lies.  It didn't taste like bananas but neither did it taste bad though and I HATED, with a passion, being made to take pills, so I was okay with the lie.

Mostly I had ear infections.  Then, when I got into double figures, mostly I had tonsillitis.  Eventually they cut my tonsils out when I was 15 and a half.  This was only after I'd had a particularly bad year where I'd had tonsillitis 7 times in less than 12 months. Finally they referred me to an ear nose and throat specialist.  Not long after the operation I got glandular fever.  There were a few murky days when they'd mixed up my blood test results with someone else and so they 'weren't really sure what the golf ball size lumps are on the throat of your daughter Mrs Megson but I'm afraid we can't rule out throat cancer at this point'.  That was fun.  I am probably the first child ever to be pleased to be diagnosed with glandular fever.  I am also probably the first child ever to recover from it in about a fortnight...

Once I got to sixth form and started doing A-levels I did seem to finally do what doctors had been promising me and my parents since I was about seven - I grew out of being ill.  My immune system suddenly woke up and started doing it's thing.  I became 'mostly well' and I have been ever since.  Baring the odd attack of darlek hearing issues of course and the appropriately seasonal cold, nothing too major (*touches wood*).

I also became a bit of a hippie in terms of not wanting to take drugs.  Despite the fact that a brief review of my childhood medical history probably suggests that in another (pre-antibiotic) era or in a less well developed country with poorer medical provision I may not have survived to live such a healthy adulthood, I became a true believer in the fact that my body ought to have the ability to heal itself.

This is partially the arrogance of living in developed country.  Partially it sprang from a sort of fear that I've consumed so many antibiotics over the years it couldn't possibly be good for me - especially as even then I'd started to hear that it was taking more and more antibiotics to kill something that previously had been wiped out with a tiny percentage of the drug.

The thing is I was really pleased when I grew out of being ill.  Obviously I didn't notice right away.  I was too busy being healthy and well.  But chatting to a friend yesterday, I realised that I've also become incredibly self-critical of illness.  I describe myself as pathetic and compare myself unfavourably to the rest of society.  It's like I see it as some sort of personal failure if I get ill and because, let me be really honest, although I was proper poorly as a kid I also loved the attention of it, I worry that part of me is just attention seeking.  I worry that if I go to the doctors they will see right through me and tell me to pull myself together and stop wasting their time.  Consequently I ride the storm of any seasonal lurgy, wearing a 'brave' smile,  until my hearing gets so distorted all my friends and family begin to sound like Daleks.  Smart huh?

Related links
'Golden age' of antibiotics is 'set to end' - BBC News
'A pill a day won't keep diseases at bay' - Article on the World Health Organisation Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly


  1. I wasn't a sickly child, neither am I a sickly adult and my approach is much like yours. Brave what you can in case everyone thinks your a woss and only see the doctor when necessary. Although I now utilise the short ten minutes at the doctors to cram in every other niggle that has been bothering me but I haven't seen the doctor about. The NHS is also somewhat a discouragement in itself to my visiting. The waiting rooms are full of sick people, you have to wait FOREVER and the doctor inevitably provides a diagnosis I expect, that I know will likely not make a dent in the issue I've been to see them about.

    We have an aversion in England to rest, but a couple of days off work when you are sick is usually the best medicine. Stupidly I rarely subscribe and am sometimes joyous when I am so ill I can't do anything but.

    1. it's odd isn't it? There was even a thing a while back about the fact that from group survival instincts it doesn't make sense to 'go into the herd (office)' when you're sick because likely as not you'll infect everyone else. Part of our 'push on through, no I'm alright really' mentality is presumably triggered by the individualistic versus collective society in which we seem to live. Thanks for your comment Lindsay - stay well! x

  2. Or you worry that if the rest of the herd see you as giving in to the sickness, they'll cut their loses and metaphorically eat you.