Warning: Not for the Faint-hearted

sick pumpkin
Not this sick.

I have been sick for the entire month of April.  Welcome to my pity party.

After a three-day ANZAC weekend of wearing pajamas and reading novels (Mao’s Last Dancer – a good choice), I have succumbed.  Yesterday morning, I made a doctor’s appointment.

Doctors are usually a last resort for me, probably because I come from the land of no national health insurance.  Once I graduated from college and was no longer under my parents’ care, I avoided medical assistance like, well, the plague (all while praying I didn’t actually contract the plague – the cost would be astronomical).  Except for one minor incident involving a dropped speaker on my head and a wallet-busting trip to the emergency room, this avoidance strategy has been effective.

That changed when I went to England, where I was suddenly paying mandatory National Insurance, and granted the gift of automatic health care.  Yes, I had to book appointments in advance.  Yes, I often had to wait for the overworked, underpaid doctor to see me (just as I have anywhere in the world).  But the point is, I got decent medical care and any necessary medication for free.

Now I am in Australia and things are slightly different.  As a working holiday tourist, I don’t qualify for Medicare, the national subsidized health care plan.  This is fair – I am a foreigner.  Fortunately, the cost of seeing a doctor is, for me, reasonably affordable.  Even still, it is hard to shake that feeling that having no insurance means having no health care.  I had resigned myself to herbal remedies, waiting it out, and pretending that my red-rimmed throat and runny nose were new-age symbols of health.
Besides, it’s common knowledge that doctors can’t do anything to cure the common cold, right?

That was until I got out of bed yesterday feeling like I’d had an internal throat wax and been karate chopped in the nose.  So I booked the appointment for that afternoon.  As the day wore on, my left eye began to redden.  Around two o’clock, I found the first glob of pus resting on my cornea.  Things deteriorated pretty quickly from there.

My cheerful doctor took one look at me, immediately diagnosing conjunctivitis and a throat infection.  Within five minutes, I had antibiotics and eyedrops in hand, and, holding a tissue to my leaky eye, was on my way back home.  (“It’s Newcastle,” he joked.  “It doesn’t agree with you!”)

By dinnertime, I had one angry little eye, swollen and generating a repulsive amount of discharge.  The pressure in my head was so intense, I thought the eye was going to pop out of my face and roll down the hallway, unleashing a waterfall (pusfall?) of liquid from the empty socket.  I retired to the room, cherishing my new medicinal procurements.

When I woke up this morning, my eye was so crusty it was practically toast.  Before I even turned on the light, Jared looked at me and said, “I don’t think you should go to work today.”

I look like Rocky after a losing fight.  The good news is, it doesn’t hurt nearly as badly, and the leaking has dramatically diminished.  Looks like I’m on the mend.  And in the meantime, I can get people to wait on me by threatening to touch them with my eye.  Bonus.

So what are you supposed to take from these self-indulgent graphic descriptions of sickness?

Well, other than the fact that when I’m sick, I like to take everyone else down with me, modern medicine is a wonderful thing.  Take advantage of it before your eye is fogged with goop, even if you have to pay a little more than you’d like to. Unless you’re in America, where you might be better off just buying an eyepatch and waiting for the whole thing to blow over.

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