Just taken Piglet for his BCG vaccination.
I don’t think this was as entertaining for Piglet as it was for me, as he screamed blue murder throughout the experience. However, it was necessary, warned the nurse, as TB is “everywhere.”
“Ah,” she said, leafing through Piglet’s red book, “you have just moved here.”
“Well, not moved exactly. I stayed with my mum for the birth, so Piglet was born in Bristol.”
“Hmmpphh” said the nurse, continuing to look through the red book, “anyone would think it was a different country. These books are all different! Everyone does their own thing, every borough, every county. Even in East London the red books are different!”
“Are they? Sorry.” Yet again I have inconvenienced the NHS with my rudeness as not remaining in the same village from cradle to grave like an eighteenth century peasant.
“So,” the nurse continued. “How old is he? Why hasn’t he had a BCG vaccination yet?”
“They don’t do them in Bristol.”
“Ah, it is because they are posh! They think it doesn’t affect them, but I tell you, TB is EVERYWHERE!”
I have visions of it chasing us down Wembley High Road. It must be a miracle we haven’t already got it. We are probably literally surrounded by it every day, despite the fact that the NHS website says you have to be in “close contact” with a sufferer to be infected.
The nurse then launched into a potted history of vaccinations, taking in the discovery of penicillin, the pitfalls of international air travel and the Western colonisation of Africa. She also reassures me that vaccinations are preventative medicines, not attempts to infect Piglet with anything. I nod knowingly throughout this and assure her that I am aware of all this.
So there are people in the world who think the NHS vaccination programme is a huge government conspiracy to infect babies with once-prevalent terrible diseases??????
“Ah,” says the nurse, “you must work in NHS!”
This is not the first time in the course of my child-rearing experience that someone has said this. I know what tuberculosis is. I’ve read Victorian novels. I know that when someone coughs and their cheeks look a bit rosy they’ll be dead from consumption by the next chapter. I also have a modicum of education. I even did the History of Medicine paper in my GCSE History, it’s not difficult. Do people exist in the world who don’t know these things? Am I so unusual in having a minimal level of knowledge about infectious diseases that only people who are actual doctors and nurses can match my peerless expertise?
I fear for the future of the world if this is the case. It is starting to make sense to me why all NHS leaflets appear to have been written for a five year old (although my all-time favourite is still one produced by the Miscarriage Association: “Miscarriage does not happen just because the baby is a boy.” Let’s imagine that it did for a second. Think of the logical conclusion here).
Anyway, Piglet is now comfortably sleeping off his traumatic experience at the hands of the nurse and I, so I am going to take this opportunity to cook myself some brunch, and maybe train as a doctor, since I am clearly more than qualified for the role.