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Saturday, March 7, 2020

My Brush with the Corona Virus

As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room on Thursday, not touching the dog-eared magazines because of possible germs, I nervously started up a conversation with the receptionist.

“Have you been busy with pseudo Corona virus victims?” I feigned nonchalance about the topic.

“It’s ridiculous,” she scoffed and wagged her pen in the air. “There’s so much hype in the media it’s a joke. It’s unnecessarily scaring everyone silly. All this panic buying of toilet paper. They must have poo for brains is all I can say.”
We shared a superior laugh together (as I pictured the twenty rolls of loo paper I’d just purchased at the IGA on the way to my appointment). I wasn’t convinced that the fear and panic was ridiculous, but I conceded that she was on the medical front line and possibly knew more than I did.

Suddenly, a woman burst through the door, wheezing, coughing up a lung and wearing a florid, feverish look.

Great, I thought. I arrived here with an innocuous, non-contagious ailment and now I’m going to leave with the flipping Corona virus. I’m nearly sixty years old for God’s sake. Isn’t that the cut off age for when it becomes deadly?

But still, if I was going to catch it, it was probably best I did in the next seven months, I thought, before my birthday comes up. I should be safe until then.

But all the same, I really didn’t want to be quarantined for two weeks. Scotto would murder me out of the frustration of having me under his feet all day.

The woman spluttered all over the front counter and I pursed my lips and held my breath as I listened to her rasp out orders to the receptionist.

“I need to get a letter from the doctor for lung x-rays for me and my daughter,” she said. “It’s urgent. I need to get in to see the doctor right away!”

I began to poop in my pants. I only came for a script renewal and now I was going to die from catching the lurgy from this woman.

“I’ll check if the doctor will see you between patients,” the receptionist replied in a manner far too casual for my liking. It was already half an hour after my scheduled appointment, and I glanced around the waiting room. There was already someone in the surgery with the doctor and I was the only patient in the waiting room. It was 4:49 pm. Clearly, this virus carrying person was going to snake in to see the doctor before me. 

Bloody push-in.

Then, worst scenario EVER, she sat her infected body down beside me to wait. And I mean RIGHT beside me. The room was fricking empty, but she sat on THE SEAT RIGHT NEXT TO ME and began to call someone on the phone. I leaned as far away as I could as I eavesdropped on her conversation.

Turned out, according to what I could gather, she didn’t have the Corona virus but instead she had some weird, possibly dangerous breathing malady arising from mould growing in her house. She wasn’t allowed back in her house and she’d been sent for urgent investigative x-rays.

Yippee for me! Not contagious after all! Just a bit of mould!

I’d only just started breathing normally again, when the door violently flew open and another woman approached the counter with a decided sense of self-importance about her person.

“I’ve just flown in from Hawaii and I have a cough,” she twanged cheerily in an American accent. “I want to make sure I’m okay. I don’t think I have Corona virus. We don’t have it in Hawaii, but I just thought I’d be careful and get it checked.”

I looked up from my hands (which I’d been fixedly staring at and mentally reminding myself to not to allow anywhere near my face) and noticed the ashen expression on the receptionist’s face.

Immediately, I took a large gulp of oxygen and held my breath again.

“Can you step out the door please?” the receptionist demanded of the woman with sharp military precision, and at the same time she picked up a face mask and a bottle of heavy-duty disinfectant.

She stood in the doorway holding the surgical mask over her face, pointing the disinfectant at the Hawaiian interloper like a can of mace.

“Go down to the hospital straight away. You can’t come in here,” she said. “You’ve been on an international flight and now you’re exhibiting symptoms. You can’t come in here.”

I began to have flashbacks of that zombie movie with Brad Pitt, World War Z. Were more jovial Hawaiians going to come clawing at the door trying to forcibly ram their way in to see the doctor? Would they smash the glass and try to eat my face off? Or would they merely cough phlegm everywhere and throw mucous-covered tissues at me?

Now, if a medical receptionist shoved me out the door and aimed a bottle of bleach at my eyeballs, I’d probably skulk back to my car in shame. But the Hawaiian began to argue with her.

“I’ve heard it’s a long drive to the hospital,” she said. “Can’t I just see the doctor here? I don’t think I really have Corona virus. It’s only a little cough.”
The receptionist suddenly grew hostile. “Go back to your car,” she instructed tersely. “Go to the hospital and do NOT come in here.”

By this stage my eyes were bulging out of my head with trying not to laugh. But it was anxious laughter, not ha ha laughter. I was smothering the spasms of hysterical terror.

After the Hawaiian finally left, the receptionist embarked on a relentless disinfection regime of extreme proportions. Everything was doused and polished with bleach… the counter top, the brochure rack containing the Herpes flyers, the already wilted Happy plant in the corner.

The lady with the mould in her lungs began to rant about how everyone needs to take the virus more seriously and the receptionist (who seemed to have decided that the Corona virus panic wasn’t as ridiculous as she’d previously stated) rushed in to see the doctor, closing the door behind her, so I was unfortunately unable to listen in.

I’ve been scanning the news and thus far have not seen reports of a Hawaiian coming down with Corona virus on the Gold Coast… but watch this space.

One thing is for sure… unless you are on the brink of death, don’t visit the doctor.

N.B: No mould was hurt during the writing of this blog post.