Words are relative. Words like, sick, pain, poor. Their magnitude weighed against the feelings of others in similar situations. What warrants a 10 on the “pain scale” for one person, for example, may only register as a 2 for someone else. But how do we really know? How do we measure something that is unique and specific to every individual?
I suffered a strange bug bite this past summer. (No, not on Pelee in case you were wondering.) It festered and spread and the itching was unbearable at times. When it showed no signs of improving, I called my doctor’s office.
“Dr. X is on holidays.” the receptionist informed me. “If it gets worse – you develop a fever, or it shows signs of infection – try the doctor on call this evening.”
I looked at the time. 9:45am. I looked at the bite on my leg. Definitely looks infected. I opted to head over to a walk-in clinic where I was prescribed antibiotics and a topical cream. Satisfied, I headed home to start my regime. A few days later however, there was still no signs of improvement. In fact, it was getting worse. It was now Sunday and the only option was an urgent care facility. Is this really an ailment for urgent care? I thought. Constant news reports about overworked medical teams and staff shortages had me thinking perhaps this wasn’t a big enough problem. It was just a bug bite after all and it’s not like I had travelled anywhere exotic. (Other than Pelee Island, of course.) I looked at my leg (something I found myself doing obsessively the past number of days) and decided to go.
Sitting in the intake area, I waited for my name to be called and turned my attention to the conversation the receptionist was having with a co-worker. I had brought a book but this was promising to be more entertaining.
“Do you want to go?” the co-worker asked the young woman behind the plexiglass partition.
“I can’t.” came the reply “I’m so broke! I have my cousin’s wedding, the bridal shower, a friend’s baby shower, the cottage weekend and my Nashville trip.”
I felt my eyebrows raise as I pretended to read my book. Does this person understand the meaning of the word broke? I thought.
“Between all that and the vet bill – I think I told you about my dog biting that other dog – I just can’t. And oh yeah, I have to get my eyebrows waxed.”
Okay, we get it, I thought to myself again, you’re “broke” and watched as the dejected co-worker walked away. It was clear to us both, her priorities lay elsewhere and that she was only broke when it came to dining out with this particular individual.
A few minutes later, a doctor came to see me. I voiced my bug bite concerns. Could it have been a tic and I’ve contracted Lyme disease? Is the infection in fact flesh eating bacteria? The tired doctor listened patiently and assured me it was probably just an allergic reaction to the topical cream I had been prescribed.
I looked down at my bug bite. “So…what should I do?”
“Just stop using it.” He instructed.
I suddenly felt silly. Did I really need to be there? Probably not, but all things are relative.