Down and out in Paris

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 4, May 2015, Page 140 Editorials

Huddled in a pathetic little ball I was wracked by another coughing spasm as I looked out over the cold, wet Paris night. Feeling like the urchin from Les Misérables, I fought the chills and rigors, hoping for relief. Contemplating my mortality, I noticed Notre Dame in the distance and offered up a little prayer.

This European vacation had been in the planning for over 6 months, so I was dismayed to contract Bubola just before departure. Most experts would probably diagnose my malady as influenza, but I am sure I had a combination of the bubonic plague and Ebola. Considering I only get ill about once a year, I was more than a little annoyed about the timing.

I blame the febrile 1-year-old I had examined the week before. I’m usually pretty quick on my feet, but this little sucker coughed up a loogie just as I was checking his inflamed throat. It appears I was enveloped in a viral cloud of pestilence from which there was no escape.

My calming medical advice to the parents was that their child had a virus and would recover in time. Suffering in France, I ruefully recalled these words and thought, “What a load of crap.” Who else gets to proclaim, “Give it time and all will be well”? Imagine your phone provider dismissing your query with “I’m sure your cell will start working properly soon.” Or the auto shop telling you to relax as they believe your steering will correct itself on its own. Or maybe even the builder who advises you to just use more buckets as the roof will probably stop leaking. In the future I may word my diagnosis of a viral illness with more sympathy considering my recent experience.

And surely we can come up with better treatments for some of the more common viral illnesses out there. I don’t mean me, but maybe some of you smart people could figure this out.

I’m sure I made Victor Hugo proud by surviving this viral revolution and not dying in France. I started feeling better by the end of the vacation, just in time to return to work.

David R. Richardson, MD. Down and out in Paris. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 4, May, 2015, Page(s) 140 - Editorials.

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