‘There is a severe infection in your right ear.’
‘Yes. It perforated last Tuesday.’
‘So you thought it reasonable to leave it a week before you saw a doctor?’
(I refrained from adding that it had been painful for some days before, but that I had tickets for rugby matches in Limerick, Dublin and Belfast and I was determined to attend, and that the perforation had at least reduced the pain that was being endured with packets of Panadol Extra).
‘Now, let us listen to your lungs.’
I took off my jacket.
‘You also have a severe chest infection. What have you been doing?’
‘I am teaching. I must have picked up something in school.’
(I did not admit going to two of the matches and although that the match in Belfast had been transferred to Dublin, to be played behind closed doors, a friend and I had decided to travel North, anyway. He had gone Christmas shopping and I had spent four hours just wandering around the city. I enjoyed a fry for lunch and we met at a bar he knew well for hot port at four o’clock. I pointed out to him that it would have been very unlikely I would have visited the bar back in the Nineties, its Catholic identity being asserted by the Irish script above the door).
‘You are really not looking after yourself very well.’
‘No,’ I replied.
(I might have added that it is only in extremis that I go to a GP at all. It is nigh on impossible to get an appointment anywhere, it took twenty-five telephone calls, and that I was only in his surgery because he stayed open until eight o’clock and that he accepted walk-ins. The €70 consultation fee was also something to be considered).
‘What do you teach he asked?’
‘This year,’ I said, ‘English and Religious Education.’
(If I had been honest, I would have said that i would teach any subject for which the Department of Education would pay me. I am not a qualified English teacher, but have realized I am more literate than many people who are).
‘My son enjoys Religious Education,’ he said. ‘He was asked what he thought of mankind, and quoting the book of Genesis, he said ‘dominion.’
‘He might also have said ‘stewardship.’ I answered.
‘Indeed,’ he said.
He printed off a prescription on an A4 sheet, which he then embossed. ‘An excellent means of avoiding forgeries,’ I thought.
I shuffled from the consulting room, paid my bill at the desk, and walked slowly down the street, stopped by spasms of coughing brought on by the night air.
I have been aware for sometime that my health hasn’t been great, but have inherited much from my father in carrying on because problems often resolve themselves.
Much has been neglected, not least my school lesson preparation and my PhD work, and much has not been done as well as it should have been.
My resolution for the New Year has only three words, ‘don’t be stupid.’