I’ve changed my doctor. Not because there was anything wrong with the one I had before: there wasn’t, she was wonderful. It’s just that she was in town, and I am not. She wasn’t here. Here being the remote location in rural New Zealand where my husband and I choose to live because the rent’s cheaper and there’s not much traffic on the road. Road, singular. Peak-hour, winter, means maybe ten or twelve cars a day (not including the odd cattle-truck that both takes away and delivers the noisy bulls from the paddock behind our house).
Our new Doc is young, enthusiastic, and holds a surgery right next door to our house in the RSA Memorial Hall – a chilly wooden building - three days a week. Having decided that she wanted to dedicate her professional career to remote rural communities, she is a rarity nowadays and should therefore be encased in a glass dome and viewed (under discreet lighting) at selected times and only when such viewing does not disturb her lightning thought processes.
I’ve told my new Doc that I can envisage a TV series – in fact, I’ve already started to pen a tentative screenplay. Set against the magnificent backdrop of the New Zealand bush with tantalising glimpses of the shining South Pacific, in my mind’s eye her Amazonian figure strides heroically into untold number of fraught situations... She shuddered and told me to keep her name out of it.
What can I say. She’s a hero. I wouldn’t denigrate her by using the word heroine, as it would not do her justice.
When I visited the Doc for the first time last month, she treated me to a two-hour consultation and a barrage of medical tests. I was nonchalant, having gone to her for a consultation about my two injured shoulders. I came away clutching a scribbled note reminding me to ring her about the blood tests. Blood tests? Well, all I can say is, she’s thorough.
The blood tests revealed a severe lactose intolerance that I’d had no knowledge of. Mind you, no one had tested me for this before. Hit me, I said. What does this mean? I can’t say I was thrilled with the answer.
No cheese, butter or milk from the cow. No problem, I said. There are alternatives to all these things, which don’t involve large bovines. Goat’s milk? No problem. Fetta cheese (goat or sheep)? absolutely no problem. Butter? I’ll use olive oil spread. No biscuits or chocolate. Whoa... No what?
Now this could be a problem. I was born and bred in the heart of England, not fifty miles from a certain manufacturer of creamy milk chocolate. Raised on a finger of fudge, cajoled into obedience by the mere mention of a threepenny bar, (or were they tuppeny bars in those days?), easily seduced by a large slab of fruit and nut, and a pushover for a cream egg. Chocoholic? Moi? I did check with my Beloved that this country sold the right sort of chocolate before I moved here, but wouldn’t anyone?
The local store, I found out, sells non-dairy chocolate. I went to have a look at it the other day, kicking the wooden floorboards and staring moodily at the shelf for so long that Ellie behind the counter could contain her curiosity no longer, and asked me what was wrong.
I shuffled disconsolately up to the counter and explained about the lactose intolerance.
’Ah,’ she said. ’Me too.’ She shuffled some brown paper bags then looked at me again. ’So are you going to buy it?’
’Nah. Don’t like dark chocolate,’ I muttered.
’Oh,’ she said.
We’re a bundle of fun in the country. It could be the fact that we don’t get out much, or perhaps it’s because we’re all bloody lactose intolerant.
I think I’m starting to get over the worst of the chocolate withdrawal symptoms now. Mind you, someone sent me a story to review yesterday and I snarled all the way through because it mentioned chocolate six times. I thought that was rubbing it in. So maybe I’m not quite there yet.
On the plus side, I’ve noticed a weight loss already. Nowadays, I don’t reach the top landing of the stairs gasping for oxygen like a tourist broaching Everest Base Camp. My waistbands seem a bit looser, and I think I’m almost ready to start doing my own personal waxes again, now that I can see what’s going on. Down there.
My husband’s the cook in our house. He’s all for healthy eating. I’m leaving my new diet entirely in his capable hands, and he’s more than up for the challenge. Mind you, I think he’s still racking his brains to find something to bribe me with now that he can’t use the odd bar of chocolate as a sweetener. If you’ll excuse the pun.
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I like this very much - crisp, entertaining, well-written.
Posted by david hull on 31st Dec 2007
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