A Walk On The Wild Side, and Trovato’s Swollen Gland
I fell ill shortly before I went on holiday.
At first, I never realised I was sick. I thought I was merely hungover. The symptoms were the same. Dizzy, weeping sores, swollen groin glands. But nobody stays hung over for three days, not even after a binge registering nine on the open-ended Retchter Scale.
I don’t have a regular doctor. Most of them emigrated after seeing me. Choosing a doctor is not a question of simply opening the phone book, closing your eyes and slamming a steak knife into the page. Using that method, you are more likely to end up knocking on the wrong door. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. Go inside and get a beer from their fridge. Lie on their couch and start describing your condition.
The gender of the doctor you choose is critical given that there will be a certain amount of lying down and a general loosening of clothing, often from the patient’s side. Would one rather have one’s willy inspected by a man or a lady doctor? Not that there was any need for a willy inspection in this case. However, an inordinate number of medical practitioners seem to think that all illnesses can be traced to the male member. You go in to have your pterygium tensioned up and the next thing you know, the ophthalmologist has his hand down your trousers and is asking you to cough.
I have never been completely at ease with strange men handling my privates, regardless of where they went to school. As it turned out, I chose a lady doctor because she was the only one who could fit me in before 2026.
“Will 3pm be okay?” said the receptionist.
“Do I have a choice?”
“Yes, you can choose between not seeing the doctor or dying.”
“Three will be fine.”
A doctors’ waiting room is my personal Room 101. Obscure Orwellian references aside, I have a powerful loathing for the places. Waiting is what other people do. I lack the temperament and humility to wait. If a queue is longer than two people, I walk away. As a result, I often go without food for days.
There was someone in there already. With a baby. The mother yakked, the doctor murmured, the baby did that terrible thing that babies do. By the time they finished, the baby was old enough to have children of its own.
“What ails thee, squire?” asked the doctor as I limped in. Oh my god. I had been in the waiting room for so long that everything had come full circle and we were back in the Elizabethan era.
“Physician, I fear ’tis a touch of the Bubonic plague,” I said, praying she would end this Shakespearean farce before bringing out the costumes and forcing me to reenact something disturbing from Macbeth.
She told me to hop up onto the bed. Had she not noticed that I was 1.94m tall? Were I to hop, I would smash through the dry wall and land in the corridor. I lowered myself onto the bed like a giraffe at a drinking hole and began undoing my pants.
“No need for that,” she said, her voice heavy with regret. However, she wasn’t going to let me escape without a fondle at the very least. Her hand disappeared up my shorts. Poking around in my groin, she looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s very big.” I blushed and turned away. “Why, thank you, doctor.”
She looked at me as if I were an imbecile. “Your gland is very swollen,” she said.
Then she asked me to do what all doctors ask, whether you are there for a flu jab or to have your face stitched back on. Wee in a cup. I went off and brought it back overflowing. Three drops, apparently, would have been sufficient.
Her litmus paper turned into a rainbow, then settled on the colour of a squashed tick. She shook her head. When doctors shake their heads right after conducting a test, you might as well kill yourself. I scanned her desk for a scalpel. Nothing. Maybe I could gouge my eyes out with the edge of her platinum picture frame. Maybe not. I doubted she could take much more of my vitreous humour. That’s a joke for the doctors. If you don’t get it, go to bloody university and get your MBChB, whatever the hell that is.
“It’s your kidneys,” she said. Oh dear. That meant I’d have to find someone to give me one of theirs. I’ve offended everyone I know. I was going to have to get in touch with someone who works for one of the organ-smuggling syndicates. That meant a visit to the local Chinese takeaway. Get one crispy duck with hoisin sauce and make a few discreet enquiries.
“An infection,” she said. “Nothing too serious.” She agreed that I probably picked it up surfing at one of our filthy ecoli-infested beaches.
“That’s good,” I said. “I bet people like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus get their kidney infections from doing far less wholesome things than surfing.”
She opened the door.
“Are you sure you don’t want to see my …”
“Goodbye,” she said. “You can pay on your way out.”
See you soon.
• Ben Trovato is the author of thirteen books, although you wouldn’t think so if you had to see his living conditions. With a background in print and television journalism, Trovato’s popular newspaper columns have earned him a wicked reputation and a fatty liver. He can often be found surfing instead of meeting his deadlines. Trovato lives alone with two regrets and a hangover.