Â STEVE CANAVAN: My stoicism and heroismÂ in the face of a cripplingÂ bout of 'killer' man-flu Â
Since September, I have been suffering from life-threatening flu.Â Well, a heavy cold. Okay, a slight sniffle.
But it hasn't half been annoying; one night it prevented me from getting to sleep for a full half-hour.
I'm quite stoic, some would say heroic, so I have bravely and uncomplainingly kept this illness to myself and not told anyone other than Mrs Canavan, my family, all of my friends, everyone at work, and several strangers who I've stopped in the street.
But in the past week or so my condition worsened '“ as well as a severe burning sensation in my chest I got a barkingly loud cough.Â
Not a person keen on frequenting doctors' surgeries, I soldiered on forÂ 45 minutes before I gave in and decided to visit a walk-in medical centre.
It was absolutely packed withÂ folk wheezing and coughing, sniffling and whining, and generally looking extremely miserable.
Everything in my being urged me to do a U-turn and buy more Lemsip but I decided that, as I was there, I may as well wait.
Another incentive was that I'd rung my mother, described my symptoms, and she'd told me I almost certainly had pneumonia and withoutÂ medical assistance I would probably be dead by Saturday teatime.
So I waited in line and after what felt like several days later, was seen by the receptionist, who, I think it's fair to surmise, was having a bad day.
'˜What's up?' she asked sharply, as if challenging me to a duel.Â
'Erm,'Â I started nervously.
'I've had a sore throat and cough and fever on and off since September and now I've got a burning in my chest and my mum thinks it's terminal and I won't survive past the weekend.'
'˜Really?' said the receptionist, arching her eyebrow like the villain in a Bond movie.
She looked as if she were debating whether to publicly flog me, then, deciding against it, shouted out, 'Take a seat!'
At this point I made a terrible faux pas. I chose a seat that had three empty spaces next to it.Â
Within seconds, a small boy lunged at me in the manner of a Second World War Japanese kamikaze pilot.
He bounced onto my knee, looked up at me, smiled, said '˜My name's Tom', then coughed violently into my face.
His mother, seated three seats and six feet away, continued to read her Cosmopolitan magazine without so much as glancing up.
After spending two hours wrestling with my over-energetic young friend,Â a nurse emerged from a side-room and called my name.
Kicking the boy lightly in the side of the head as I stood, I finally saw a doctor.
'˜I've probably got what everyone else has got,' I announced apologetically as I entered.
I expected her to examine me for a brief moment, reply '˜Yes, you've got what everyone else has got', then send me home feeling like I'd wasted everyone's time and was guilty of draining valuable resources from an already overstretched and underfunded NHS.
But she did no such thing. She spent a lengthy amount of time doing a series of checks and even made me do a urine test.Â In short, she was great.
I returned home feeling better, with antibiotics and the warm glow of satisfaction that comes with beating aÂ six-year-old in a fight.