I looked at the poor, suffering people, sitting patiently waiting for the nurse to come out and call their names. I heard a person’s name called out and was shocked to see someone else get up, but then I realized that they used maiden names here, so I settled back in my waiting chair with a groan. No need to correct the nurse, go ahead, heal someone. The coughing and sniffling got louder and a baby’s crying was starting to make everyone wish that they were safely in a infirmary somewhere else, when I heard my own name called at last.
Wiping my dripping nose, I got up and shuffled over to the examination room, careful not to trip on any children. I sat down on the cold chair. Everywhere around me, the propaganda of the medical trade beckoned me to cut back on sugar, to wear a condom, not to smoke, watch my fat intake and to exercise more often. I looked around some more, looking to see if there was any advice on how to avoid catching the cold or flu. A disheartening notice told me that there was no cure for the cold and that if untreated, the flu could go pandemic.
The nurse, smiling and attentive, asked my about my problem. I pointed to my nose, aching ear and head. She was quick with her prognosis, and determined that I was a victim of nasty sinus congestion worthy of antibiotics, muscle relaxants and some decongestant that oddly was cut in half. A note was given to me, allocating some time off to recover. I was also given some reassurance, that I was number 300 to come in with similar symptoms.
Later, after lolling around in a sweaty fever, trying not to concentrate on my aches and pains, I thought of times when, way back, getting a cold was a lot more deadly, and the cure was often a lot less tasty than Buckley’s Mixture.
One year, when I was quite young, a real epidemic swept through our community. My mother, being a registered nurse, employed me to tow around a small sled laden with vaccines. We went house to house, deploying the valuable cure to everyone who was ill. To this day, some people recall that time and told me that I was a little saviour. Even though I barely remember, I do recall that some people could not get out of bed to do any chores, some places needed a little wood to be chopped, and that was done for a few stricken with this ailment.
Going back several decades earlier, one sickness was so deadly people were quarantined to the outlying Loon Islands, where many perished. We camped there many times when we were young, on one of the few sandy parts of the rocky island.
We talked about that time when Scarlet Fever struck our community of Fort George pretty hard. We thought about where the ones who died were buried on Loon Island and an eerie thought came to us: what if we were camped right on top of those graves? Shuddering, we tried to get those thoughts out of our young minds and settled down to a fitful sleep. The next morning, we moved our tent to the pebbled beach area and continued our expedition to kill whatever came into our sights.
Today, many get sick quicker and easier, with global travel making it easy to spread any deadly bug to any populated area quicker than you can say SARS. A words of advice: try not to shake hands and keep the kissing and cheek pecking to a minimum and make sure your medical card is up to date. Signing off with a fever and a rabid temperature, I remain still sick (sniffle, cough, hack…).