Thursday 13th December 1990 Home visit 11:45
“You shouldn’t have come to see me Doctor. It’s just a slight touch of flu.”
“Your wife was quite worried about you.”
“Yes, Gladys does tend to overreact. Look, if I had known you were coming I would have got up and got dressed. I haven’t even put my pyjamas on; I’ve been feeling pretty warm.”
Mr Greene did look very red and hot. He was drenched with sweat. In places, it was running down his chest. My Dad shook his thermometer and popped it under Mr Greene’s tongue.
“Mmm . . . 42.3*C . . . that’s as high a temperature as you can get!”
“I’m sure it’s no higher than anyone else’s, doctor.”
“Right, let’s have a look at your throat.”
Mr Greene opened his mouth.
“Mmm . . . .”
“Oh, hang on! Here we go!” Mr Greene’s hands started trembling. As we watched, his arms began to shake and then his legs. Soon his whole body was moving so violently that his bed started clattering noisily on the wooden floor. My Dad leant on the foot of the bed to try to steady it. The attack built up to a crescendo over several minutes and then gradually died down.
“Goodness me!” My Dad exclaimed. “That was a dreadful rigor.”
“A rigor?” Mr Greene said.
“Yes, these attacks of shivering are called rigors,” my Dad continued. “You tend to get them with a high temperature. Have you been aching?”
“He’s been awful, haven’t you Gavin?” Gladys Greene shouted from her bedroom next door. “His arms and legs have been as heavy as lumps of lead. They were so painful he could hardly stand yesterday.”
Gavin Greene nodded reluctantly. “They’re not quite so bad, today, Dr Dennis.”
My Dad looked thoughtfully down at Gavin Greene as he lay on the bed. “Well, Mr Greene, he said. You have definitely got the flu but, I must say, it’s the worst case I have ever seen.” He shook his head as he spoke. “To be completely honest, it’s the worst case we’ve ever had in the practice . . . I don’t know what we can do.”
“I’ll be fine, Doctor Desmond. I am due two more paracetamol now. I’ll get up after you’ve gone and make Gladys some lunch.”
“Make Gladys some lunch!” My Dad looked incredulous. “You are not fit to do anything.”
“I’ll have to, doctor. She’s had another one of her migraines this morning. Her vision’s all lopsided and she’s got a thumping headache. She can’t get out of bed. You know what she’s like if she doesn’t eat a proper lunch. Her indigestion will be awful.”