I called first thing this morning to make an appointment at the Katanning Medical Practice.
Of course, they don’t call it a surgery any more. It is a practice. I don’t find that comforting at all. I would rather they were good enough that they did not need to keep practising. Not that the idea of surgery is really any more comforting. Thoughts of scalpels and anaesthetic.
To my surprise there was a slot for me that very afternoon. Rose said “Well, you were lucky to get an appointment so soon. Unless it is something so serious…” I could not tell from her dead pan face if she was kidding. I was nonetheless prepared for the worst by the time I arrived for the appointment.
I sat in the waiting room, waiting for my turn, at first reading Tattoo Magazine, and wondering how that got there, and marvelling at the rubbish with which some people adorn their bodies. (I did spot one tattoo I would quite like to sport). I read a copy of the first South African edition of Top Gear Magazine after which I tried teaching a little blond girl of about four years of age to high five. I showed a little ginga lad how to wink with one eye. The parents of the two toddlers watched indulgently, after an initial careful scrutiny which I assume led them to conclude I was not a paedophile, or at least that I was not in a position to cause any harm that particular afternoon.
Finally all names had been called, and I was alone in the waiting room. The couple with the Ginga boy came out and left, followed shortly after by the parents of the little blonde girl and their offspring, who came over to me for one more High Five before waving goodbye. “Last consultation of the day” I thought. Dr B called my name. Half an hour to the second after my appointment time I rose and followed him up the hall to his consulting room.
“Hello, how are you?” he asked.
“That’s what I am here to find out” I replied cheerfully. ” I feel fine. I assume you want to talk to me about the results of my blood test. You said you would only call me in if there was a problem.”
“Yes, yes. Sit down”.
I sat at the side of his desk, and he sat at the desk and turned to the computer screen. He tapped a few keys on the keyboard, and stared at the screen a while. I wondered if he was finding it hard to broach the subject.
“Give it to me straight Doc”, I said. “I can take it. How long have I got to live? Will I get to see the new series of Dr Who? Have I time to learn the violin?”
He looked astonished. “You’ll probably outlive me” he said.
“That I doubt, given that you are two thirds my age” I replied. “So my liver lipids are up?”
“Just a bit elevated. On the high side of normal. I want you to start taking fish oil capsules, work a bit harder on your weight, and …”
I held my breath. I knew it. Here it comes. The E-word
“.. get more exercise”. said Dr B.
” I am already eating fish three times a week, grilled not fried – sometimes canned. i have a freezer full of tuna steaks and salmon”.
“Good. Keep it up. Cut down on the bad fatty foods, eat salads and vegetables, lean meat”.
“I do!” I protested. Then I had a terrible thought. “Does this mean I have to cut out the bacon?”
He considered a moment. “Maybe”. Then “Yes.” He looked wistful. “I have never tried bacon” he said. ” I am told it is very nice…”
“It is. Food of the Gods. Divine eating. And I always buy the lean stuff”.
“Well I guess once a week is Ok. Divine eating eh?”
“Yep. You should try it”.
I should perhaps mention that Dr B is from Pakistan. I was teasing him. He took it well.
He gave me a script for fish oil capsules and told me that I could buy them just as cheaply anyway. He told me he wanted me to lose a kilo a month, shook my hand and showed me out. At reception I learned there was nothing to pay, because recalls to discuss lab results are bulk billed. I left $65 richer than I expected.
I have already modified my diet. There is only one thing left to do.
Join. The. Gym.
I know I will get addicted and love it, as I did when I went every day to the gym in the basement of the Ministry so long ago and far away. But right now I have a terrible feeling of inertia.
The good news I am still allowed bacon on Saturdays.