Sneezing hot and cold down the Swine Flu Hotline
In ordinary times this would call for a stiff drink in the morning, a cup of lemon tea, a session in the gym and sauna and viola! But these are not ordinary days thanks to the H1N1 virus which causes the sometimes lethal Swine Flu.
Having been on a couple of flights back home on Sunday, I started worrying. I quickly googled the symptoms: running nose? Tick. Lethargy? Tick (although I feel this way all the time except when in possession of stiff drink, above...). Joint pains? Tick. Fever? Yes, from being scared sick by this time. Headache? On the way.
The missus was by now looking at me with mild bemusement as I felt my nape and searched for the hotline. After being given the all-clear at Entebbe Airport on Sunday night, I had been given a small white piece of paper with symptoms and hotline numbers to call, just in case I started feeling crap and showing symptoms. As a diligent and law-abiding citizen, I had taken the piece of paper and very carefully managed to lose it in a minute or less. Now here I was showing 70 per cent of the symptoms and going through my duty free receipts for the bloody piece of paper. I found receipts for chocolate, ceiling glow-in-the-dark stickers, plenty of books but no bloody Piece of Paper
After finally getting the numbers from the office, I placed a worried call to the first hotline number.
"I think I am on the verge of starting a wave of death in the country," I said, "and would like to be taken away into quarantine and the key cast into the sea to protect the rest of all Ugandans."
Not really, anyway, I said I wanted to take a precautionary test; was there somewhere I could go or could they send in a mobile lab to check me out. The voice on the other end insisted I stay just where I was (which was at the dining table, wrapped in a towel and trying to remember if I had a valid and up-to-date will and names of all who owe me money). He then read out another mobile number for a Dr Makumbi who, Mr Voice said, would be of help to me.
I promptly called Dr Makumbi who answered on the third ring. After explaining my feelings (hehe; how I was feeling, duh!), my journeys, etc, I asked for advice.
"I am at the Airport right now," Dr Makumbi told me.
"call me back later," he added, before hanging up.
So there I am, in a house with three other people, in a towel sat at a dining table, potentially carrying a virus that could wipe out the human race and allow pigs to inherit the world, and the head of the anti-epidemics task force, or whatever it is called, was asking me to stay put and call him later? When? In an hour? In the afternoon? Just before I receive my last rites?
Being the law/instruction-abiding citizen alluded to earlier, I dressed up, had a cup of lemon tea and went forth into the world to multiply viruses. Well, I did pass by the AAR clinic where the bloke ahead of me in the queue was spotting some horrific leg injury attained in some macho activity like bungee jumping, sky diving or fighting his way out of a dangerous part of Mogadishu.
You can imagine how macho I felt when I went in after him and told the doctor that I probably had swine flu and felt like I had hours to live. She kept a straight face but I could see her smiling behind her clinical eyes when she told me all I probably have is the 'ordinary' flu and prescribed some rest, water and vitamins.
Last week I had car trouble and had to be rescued by the Missus in her car with a tow truck in, eh...er...tow. When we told the Prima Donna of the House, age 6, about it, she said I was such a baby for not being able to push the car myself (yeah, like push it for 10 kilometres, smartarse?). I wonder what she will say when I tell her later today that I went to see the doctor because I was sneezing...