Anything is For Sale

February 10, 2010

On Monday morning, I woke up with a body ache and a sore throat. I ignored it and went to work, and mid-morning I realized I could ignore it no longer. So I went home, had lunch, and went to bed. By that time, I had a mild fever. As I snoozed, the fever spiked and I had what I can only describe as a hallucination. According to the Internet, it is not a hallucination if you are not awake. I think I was asleep at the time, so technically it would be termed a dream, but it felt most un-dream-like, it felt very, very real.

In this dream/hallucination, I knew that I was in bed at home, sick. I was confused and I was trying to do some work on my office laptop, which I should not have been trying to do, because I was just spoiling a file that I had already finished editing. This worried me profoundly. As I was trying to close the file without saving the changes, Tara came into the room, riding her tricycle and smiling sweetly at me. This made me go berserk. I screamed at her, “No! No! You can’t be here! I left you in school this morning!” The realization that she couldn’t be there and yet she was there was terrifying for me. I went on screaming and throwing my arms and legs around, and she went on smiling at me. Somewhere in this chaos, I knew I had to call Amit. I struggled to get a grip on myself and find my cellphone, which, luckily, was right next to me. I think that by the time I called him, I was mostly out of the dream or whatever it was. It was almost 4 p.m. I lay awake and worried till he came home around 5, too scared to fall asleep in case some similar dream/hallucination happened again. I still had quite a bit of fever by the time he came home (though it was only 101.8 when we checked it, not high enough to cause hallucinations, I’d have thought), but nothing even close to this happened again.

I’ve had “fever-dreams” before – I suppose everyone has. I have some typical dreams that are associated with high fever, something to do with large sizes, “grossness” in the literal sense. Fever dreams have a typically “unreal” quality – even when you’re in them, they seem unreal and somehow feverish. With this particular dream/hallucination, there was none of that – it was real in time and place and in every way that it could have been except for the impossibility of Tara, who should have been in daycare, being there. I don’t know, and I suppose I never will, whether I was really awake or really not, when I saw it; or whether I really screamed and flailed around or only dreamt that I did.

Whatever it was, it was weird and scary.

Anyway, on Tuesday the fever abated. Amit stayed home the whole day, apart from dropping the kids to school and picking them up from daycare. I was still very tired and had a lot of bodyache and headache, so I wasn’t much use, and I slept a lot. We should have gone to the hospital on Monday evening, or at least on Tuesday morning once the kids were in school, but both times, just as we were about to step out the door, I backed out. On Monday, I was just too unwell for it; and on Tuesday, I wasn’t unwell enough for it to be worth the effort. Rest, on both occasions, seemed like a higher priority. Anyway, doctors would only prescribe antibiotics, which would tire me out even more and probably weren’t even required anyway.

On Wednesday I was a lot better, but still not liking the prospect of the commute and a long day at work. And my ears were troubling me. They always tend to get involved whenever I have any kind of cold or sinusitis and they can be very, very painful. I was still tired and still had bits of bodyache too. But now I’d been home two days, so I couldn’t take another day’s sick leave without a doctor’s certificate. So we had to take me to a doctor. By now I was well enough to walk ten minutes to a local hospital down the road. There a young GP took my temperature, my BP and my pulse and heard a brief recital of my symptoms. After a quick exam she wrote out a prescription for – sure enough – a course of antibiotics.

“Also, could you please issue a medical certificate, since I haven’t been able to go to office for the past couple of days,” I asked.

Actually, I’m not sure how this works. I had been sick enough to not be able to go to work, but I was a whole lot better now. Could the doctor issue a retrospective medical certificate, justifying the past two days’ sick leave? Or would she issue a certificate saying it was ok for me to take rest for the next day or two? Or would she just say that I looked ok now and there was no reason I shouldn’t go to work – which was not how I felt, but she was entitled to her professional opinion on that?

As it turned out, the answer was D: None of the above. “You have to pay Rs150 for a medical certificate,” she said.

This was not at all what I’d expected. So they didn’t really care whether I was sick or well, or how many days I needed off from work – pay the price and they’ll write what you want. I was so disgusted that I decided I’d just work from home instead of taking another day’s sick leave.

And I know you were thinking that I’d completely lost track of the title of this post, but I hadn’t – I just went all over the place getting to the point. Like I usually do.

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