“So what makes you think that?” asks the Doctor, raising his eyebrows.
I take a deep breath, in an attempt to mask my shame in a show of new-mannity. “Well you see the thing is,” I begin, struggling for the right words to describe the symptoms of my condition, “essentially what happens is that, what I find, I have been having difficulties, I just can’t…”
The Doctor raises his eyebrows further. They sit atop his pate, querulously.
“I am having real problems drinking more than about three pints,” I confide. “That is to say, after about the second or third, I start to feel sick and I can’t really drink any more. So I suspect that I have probably got coeliac disease.” His eyebrows hover above his head. “That is an intolerence of wheat or wheat-based products,” I add for the benefit of anybody who is hiding in his surgery, perhaps in one of the cupboards or behind the fourth wall, who would need the term ‘coeliac disease’ clarified and who could not be bothered to use Google.
The Doctor stares at me with pursed lips. “The thing is,” I continue, keen to show that I have done some proper research and am not just wasting NHS time, “I can drink cider until the cows come home. I mean, honestly, cider is no problem. I drink it all night, and really then the only issue is that I fall over. But I can’t really do beer any more.”
There is a small cracking noise as his eyebrows work their way through the ceiling, leaving two small holes behind.
We discuss aspects of my diet for a bit, and whether I do or do not have the shits. He informs me that there is a simple test that will tell me whether I do, or whether I do not, have coeliac disease. This is reassuring. It would be good if it could be caught quickly, as in the long term me not being able to drink beer could cost the NHS millions.
“So to sum up,” concludes the Doctor, leaning back in his chair, “you would rather be diagnosed with a serious medical condition than be thought some sort of wuss.”
“Erm – yes. That’s about the size of it, I suppose.”
The Doctor sighs. “Okay. Go and book yourself a blood test then.”