‘Ya have to go to the doctor. Seriously.’
I had a lump on the side of my head that was pushing my ear out west like a signpost, and yet here I was in the office working away with not a care in the world. One person after another told me that such a sudden anomaly deserved the attention of a doctor, so at last I relented. Anything for a bit of peace and quiet.
My regular doctor was on holidays when I arrived at the medical centre on a hot June afternoon in 2006. The replacement doctor welcomed me into her surgery, and I explained my symptoms. She then proceeded to march me up to a wall-length mirror and, standing behind me, she said:
‘Do ya see that now?’ Ya have a big lump there at the side of your head.’
‘Yes, I know,’ I thought. ‘That’s why I’m here. Where did they get her from?’
Sitting me back down on a chair, the doctor’s next question did little to reassure me that I was in capable hands.
‘What do you think it is?’ she asked.
Wonderful. I’m paying 50 odd euro for the privilege of diagnosing myself. I could have done that back in the office. However, I decided to help her out.
‘I don’t know,’ I said, shrugging my shoulders. ‘Maybe something glandular.’
‘Yes,’ she exclaimed rather excitedly. ‘I think you’re right. It looks like something glandular.’
And with that, she wrote out a prescription (more money) for antibiotics and told me I’d be right as rain in a few days.
Turns out it wasn’t anything glandular, but an early symptom of mumps that, over the course of the next three days, left me bed-ridden with a high fever, chronic diarrhea and a nadge bag the size of a football.
A day or two after I returned to work, I got a call from the medical centre. My regular doctor was back and wanted to see me. My guess was that the replacement doctor had killed most of his patients in his absence, and he was now trying to save the last few who remained.
Fortunately, I was in somewhat better shape a few years later when a health practitioner visited my place of work to offer free health check-ups. After conducting a quick-check cholesterol test, she seemed very enthusiastic about my results.
‘Your cholesterol is perfect,’ she said. ‘God, I wish I had your cholesterol.’
Moving onto the urine sample I had brought into the examination with me, she held it aloft in the light and stared in awe at it.
‘That’s very clear,’ she said. ‘You must eat lots of fruit and vegetables.’
‘Not really,’ I stated truthfully. In fact, at that time at least, I seldom ate five a week, never mind five a day.
‘Ah ya do,’ she said, not believing me for a second and taking another look at the urine sample. For a moment, it looked as if she wasn’t short of guzzling it down like a thirsty gazelle.
Although the diagnosis was good on that particular day, it was even better back in 2006 when the doctor confirmed that I had likely been enduring mumps instead of the glandular problem diagnosed by his colleague.
Completing his examination, he confidently assured me that the future was very bright indeed.
‘You’re going to live forever,’ he said, face beaming.
‘Ah now,’ I thought to myself. ‘Bring back the other lunatic. At least, she’s a bit closer to the mark.’
Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.