Wash your hands

By: Daniel Hutchinson daniel@thesun.co.nz

Daniel Hutchinson
From The Hutch

The very word ‘measles’ just sounds mean and slightly insignificant. Only, it turns out it isn’t insignificant.

Measles has been striking fear into everyone over the last few weeks. More than 1000 people are, right now, suffering on the couch, watching endless news bulletins about Brexit. Too tired to get up and change channels. Some of them will be in a really bad state in hospital.

I hadn’t really thought much about this until my Dad tripped over a pitchfork on Monday while popping out for a leek from his vegetable patch.

Not much stops this man and he had already staunched and bandaged the laceration with a tea towel before I arrived and was about to drive himself to the afterhours clinic to get some stitches. Mum thought that was a terrible idea, because he had already been stung by a bee earlier in the day and was clearly just a walking accident.

So, that’s how I ended up in the after-hours clinic on 2nd Avenue, surrounded by all sorts of unhealthy looking specimens.

One of the quaint traditions with these kinds of clinics is that if you are well enough to bring yourself in, you are well enough to stand there and fill out the paperwork.

You can see the confused and hurt look on people’s faces when they stumble in, traumatised by whatever injury or urgent ailment they have, only to have to answer questions like they’re applying for a driver’s licence.

‘Name please?’

‘Have you been here before?’

‘Um, my bones are broken.’

 ‘Date of birth?’…..

This is actually a kind of triage – if you can get through the questions without passing out from blood loss or keeling over with an asthma attack then you are relegated to a seat in the waiting room.

All around us, the screaming babies were hogging the limelight. There was actually only two or three babies but it felt like 20.

A mum was busy trying to explain her baby’s condition to the unflappable woman behind the counter.

‘Sorry, I can’t hear you, your baby is too loud.’

The baby’s hat fell to the ground, unnoticed by the mother so I hurried over, picked up the hat and passed it back to her.

I returned to my seat, a little sheepish and a bit proud and then it occurred to me – these babies have all got measles, haven’t they?

Measles isn’t actually just a baby thing but all reason went out the window, and I had just itched my lip. I could feel the measle growing there. It was burning a hole but I couldn’t dare touch it again without first sanitising my hands.

Mum later assured me that I had already had measles – or was it chicken pox? I’d certainly had one of those things, but maybe it was mumps. I had quite possibly been vaccinated too. I come from a large family.

None of that was 100 per cent reassuring. The doctors are insisting that everyone who is not sure if they are vaccinated or not, should just go and do it.

In fact if you don’t vaccinate the kids, you are now a social outcast. Even that friendly doctor from Northland is piling the pressure on. Lance has suggested that people on benefits should perhaps not get that money if they don’t get the kids vaccinated.

I’m not entirely sure how that is going to help the children. I guess if they starve to death then they won’t get measles. At least starvation is not contagious.

There’s actually a name for people who are suspicious about putting foreign substances like vaccinations into their body. They are called “anti-vaxers”.

That sounds very sci-fi, but those who are opposed to vaccines on health grounds are generally people with access to the internet, who like to do research and have found some literature that is contrary to the collective wisdom of the health sector.

Apparently, the more affluent suburbs tend to have higher numbers of anti-vaxers.

So, instead of cutting off the domestic purposes benefit, a more effective tool might be just to cut off the internet to Remuera. Problem solved.

Anyway, I’m sitting here scratching my face and generally feeling a bit measly so I might dash off now and find a doctor, if it’s not too late.

daniel@thesun.co.nz