I had to go back to the Doctors this morning, and as the cold Bank Holiday took its toll and left a multitude of casualties in it’s wake, they couldn’t guarantee me an appointment with Dr B, but I ran out of meds on Sunday, so I had to take part in the free for all that is the ‘Drop In Clinic’.
This is something of a new initiative for my surgery, but even I was taken aback at the number of people crammed into the waiting room. It looked like a home game crowd at Stamford Bridge, albeit less chanting and hooliganism and a whole lot more sniffing.
Grateful that I’d brought a book, I squeezed along a row, into a plastic chair and hunkered down for the duration.
Two hours I waited. Two. Hours.
In the meantime I was surrounded by people sneezing, coughing, hawking up snot into hankies (is there a sound worse than that? It makes my blood go cold), wheezing, burping, screaming and running around. The latter two, kids were the culprits of course. Apart from one old boy who couldn’t find the exit…
Did I mention elbow nudging and seat kicking? What is it about people that they don’t know or don’t care that they are impinging on someone else’s personal space? Back in the day, when I was a little less tactful, if anyone entered my aura when I was reading or leaned on me on the tube, I would glare at them witheringly until they edged away. Today, I bit my lip, held my tongue and tried to concentrate on my book.
Unfortunately that book was Stephen Kings ‘The Stand’.
You know the one? The post apocalyptic horror story where 99.4% of the population of the planet gets killed off by the ‘Captain Trips’ flu-like plague?
The plus side of this was that I got to listen to free sound effects whilst reading, on the minus side I started to get quite paranoid about catching something. If anyone was feigning illness to chuck a sickie this morning, they sure as hell wouldn’t be feigning by the time they left that place. It was teeming with bugs. I discretely inched my pashmina over my nose and mouth and prayed to whoever was listening for that knackered old tannoy to call out my name.
Then the woman behind me started talking about her sons nits (head lice), how he got them at a kids soft play area, infected the entire family, burning towels, prescription shampoo, blah, blah. My head started to itch. I put up my hood immediately causing the conversation to cease and resentful muttering to start.
Whatever. Don’t know what they were bitching about, it wasn’t them sitting there looking like the oldest hoody in town.
Then ninety minutes in, the smell of excrement suddenly filled the air. What? Really? Could this possibly get any worse? Is nose picking, snorting up mucous and hacking away and spraying strangers with snot not gross enough for these bastards? Has one of them shat himself? Med-less and beside myself, I turned to glare in the general direction of the stink in order to communicate my distaste, and my eyes immediately locked with those of a sweet, saucer eyed infant who beamed back beatifically at me. This little bundle of joy had clearly produced it’s own body weight in poo and dropped it’s guts with a happy gurgle into it’s nappy. His/her mother seemed not to notice.
Nonplussed and charmed despite myself, I smiled back at it queasily. How can something so beautiful stink so bad?
Then just as I was about to give up and go home, my name was called out. I staggered into the waiting room, beyond agitated, twitching and itching from head to foot.
The GP was unsurprisingly not Dr B, but a nice, plump, smily lady who beamed at me encouragingly. No mean feat as she must have already seen at least a hundred people since the surgery opened.
‘I need 100’s. I can’t reduce my meds,’ I declared defensively, ‘I have tried, but I either get angry or frightened or very, very sad, and the Fear has come back at night.’
‘OK!’ she replied, brightly.
Really? No lecture, no quizzing me about finding work? No pushing me to do the dreaded CBT therapy?
It was a breeze. I left that snotty, nit infested sewer of a surgery for the chemists and by the time I got home I was dosed up to the max, stoned and serene. I forgot all about contracting noro virus or SARS, armed myself with my knitting and settled down to an afternoon of watching my boxed set of ‘Six Feet Under’.
So guess which episode I was up to? Yes that’s right, the lovely, cheery ‘Invisible Woman’.
‘The Invisible Woman’ opens with a single lady in her forties sitting down by herself to a ready meal dinner and choking to death on what looks like a piece of chicken. Her body isn’t found for a week by which time it is badly decomposed, fly blown and beyond tarting up. Not only that, but she had no friends, no family and no one was willing to come to her funeral. Ruth had to pick out her burial clothes and force her own family to witness her farewell.
The Fisher family spend much of the episode trying to figure out what was so bad about this woman that she could be allowed to depart from the world without having anyone in her life.
Well it’s actually quite easy, Fishers. It goes something like this:
- If you’re over 30 and single, you are immediately handicapped. You’re at an age where most of your friends don’t/can’t go out much anymore so your social life suffers.
- It is also very hard to meet a partner unless you are willing to settle for the sake of conformity.
- Also as a single person, you don’t get invited to the soirees couples are, unless of course you are invited as a plus one to pair up with some other poor social pariah.
- If you get tired of being the one to make all the effort, and stop trying, people don’t notice that much and it is very easy for you just to slip out of peoples lives, off their Christmas lists and into obscurity.
- If you are not working that has something of a stigma attached to it and people are wary about inviting you to things in case you can’t afford to attend. Or they see you as just not very interesting anymore or lacking identity. Because, in some peoples eyes, how you earn a living is who you are.
- Speaking of stigmas, if you have mental health issues and it gets out, you will probably shed at least three quarters of the people you know in one fell swoop.
- Family also get a bit wary if you’ve been ill as they don’t want the responsibility of looking after you should anything happen, so can also keep their distance a bit.
- It also doesn’t hurt if you are hard to live with, outspoken, extremely paranoid and sensitive and don’t suffer fools gladly 😉
Et voila! Guaranteed isolation, lone demise and closed coffin.
This heartening little episode would have finished me off had I watched it on Easter Sunday. But today, thanks to my 100mg of super Sertraline I am back in La La Land, where I quite frankly do not give a fuck. Bollocks to 50mg. One day I hope to be off meds for good but right now? It ain’t happening.
Granted it makes me feel a bit muzzy but you know what? Sometimes it’s good not to feel anything. And it works which is more than I can say about praying.
My aim is to improve my situation in all aspects, but I don’t want to think about all of the challenges ahead, or the effort it takes to make and keep friends.
Right now? I just wanna hang with the Fishers. ‘Cos they make even me feel normal.
Would anyone notice within a week if I died and was half eaten by my cats? Probably not. But at least the cats wouldn’t starve.
How many people would come to my funeral? More than did for poor Emily, out of guilt if nothing else, but not that many.
How many people would miss me? That I cannot say. But probably not many.
At the end of the day, will dying alone make the experience worse? I doubt it. There are some places we go where others cannot follow, and whilst there may be comfort in someone being there holding your hand, I don’t think I need that. I think I’ve done it before, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of, and I think I’ll curl up and roll into death nicely, gladly, gratefully as if into the folds of a cashmere throw. Even if Captain Trips taps me on the shoulder one day. I’ll also specify that I want to be buried in a onesie or my body be donated for plastination, so that’ll save some Ruth Fisher type raking through my wardrobes.
I have no idea what the future holds. But I think dying alone is the least of my worries. Like I’ve said before, it’s living you’ve got to watch out for.
I do have plans for my death and funeral though. Inspired by those old black and white Ealing comedies, I plan to have a very inventive will which requires potential beneficiaries to go on a wild goose chase around London performing random, embarrassing tasks treasure hunt stylee in order to inherit the most amount of money.
Might as well get some fun out of it, and that way, they’ll never forget me 😉 !
Like the old saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…..