This Is How It Is Now

Vernon Coleman

When Antoinette came out of hospital for her breast cancer operation, the ward sister gave her a list of terrifying warnings. One was that she had to watch out for signs of septicaemia Ė a not uncommon problem among patients who have had surgery.

Now, the thing about septicaemia is that it develops very quickly. It can kill in hours. But it can be cured if youíre fast. And the treatment of choice is very simple: a broad spectrum antibiotic.

We live an hour or so from the nearest hospital and of course our GP is shut outside normal library hours. And so I asked our GP if she would give us a prescription for some antibiotic tablets Ė only to be taken if sepsis develops. The symptoms and signs arenít hard to spot. And even though I donít practise I do still have a medical degree.

The doctor refused. 'Itís not something we would do.'

There is, it seems to me, no place in medicine for preventive medicine unless it involves a vaccine. Doctors like vaccines.

After leaving the doctorsí surgery we went to the bank. We needed a simple document witnessing and in the past bank staff have always been happy to act as witnesses. We didnít need a reference or any sort of authority Ė merely a witness.

After much thought and discussion and consultation the bank manager refused. `Itís not something we do now,í she said.

I then drove to a local charity shop. (It is one which represents a local, rather than a national, charity.) I had spent two days sorting through my library and I had picked out around 700 books which I didnít need for reference and wasnít likely to read again. There were quite a few first editions. The books were all packed in bags. I parked as near as I could to the shop and then carried in the bags. (Antoinette usually helps me when I take bags to charity, but she was under strict instructions by the doctors at the hospital not to lift anything for a while). It took me ages and by the time Iíd finished I was exhausted. A woman in her 40s who was sitting on a stool watched me but didnít offer to help. When I had finished, the woman looked at me and then at the books. `Weíll have to get someone in to sort these,í she moaned. I looked at her. That was it. I waited a couple of beats to see if she might manage a `thank youí. No such luck. I left.

The next time I have books which are surplus to requirements I will call in a book dealer.

Disappointed and frustrated by the day, we drove ten minutes along the coast to a small town where there is a decent amusements arcade. We spent a happy hour shooting zombies. We both then felt much better. Sometimes, zombies are so much more reliable than human beings. And you can shoot them without getting into trouble.

Copyright Vernon Coleman June 2019