It had started with a simple pain. My first thought was obvious. Had I dropped a bottle of wine on it? My second was less charitable. “Did you kick me in the night?” I said to my wife.
“Not this week, no. And if I wanted to kick you it would be somewhere far more painful than your foot.”
By Friday, nothing could have been more painful than my foot. And large parts of it had turned bright red.
I phoned and got an immediate appointment with my own GP. I waved cheerfully at the flying pig and hobbled painfully to the surgery.
After a lifetime of football, running, squash and a thousand changing rooms my left foot is not an attractive prospect. I can understand a few of the remoter outposts on the sexual map, but getting turned on by someone’s feet? Not in my philosophy, Horatio.
But my GP was excited. “Oh,” he said cheerfully. “Don’t see this very often. Sort of thing people died of before there were antibiotics.” Brilliant. A medieval pestilence. At least the children would be impressed.
There was more good news. “Any pain in your groin?”
I was feeling too ill for my customary flippant reply. “No.”
“There probably will be. It usually travels up your leg and into the glands in your groin. Just your body fighting it. Nothing to worry about.”
No, of course not. Why would I worry about such a trivial thing as my groin turning bright red and swelling to three times its normal size?
“Do you mind if I draw on your foot?” he said, tracing the outline of the inflammation with his biro. What did that remind me of? Australia? Greenland? Neither. The stain on the bedroom carpet.
“If it crosses the borders, so to speak,” he said, “Don’t bother phoning. Head straight for A&E.”
I thought that was enough good news for one morning, but sadly not. He gave me a prescription for three tons of antibiotics. “Obviously you can’t drink alcohol while you’re taking them.”
“I barely touch the stuff,” I said and limped back to the office, resisting the urge to mug a pensioner and steal his walking stick.
I told my ever-supportive wife that my groin might swell up and turn bright red. “That’ll make for an interesting weekend,” she said, handing me directions to the spare room.
The next day was not pleasant. Unshaven, shivering, and dressed in t-shirt, jumper, dressing gown and my biggest coat I may not have looked at my best. Small wonder my wife deserted me for three hours with Messrs Crowe and Jackman.
Meanwhile my foot was still expanding and contracting like Jabba the Hut doing deep breathing exercises. Yet again I stumbled upstairs and collapsed into bed. Wisely, I’d resisted the urge to Google-image the infection. After all, they’re only interested in the spectacular and the horrific. Just like your teenage daughter…
Jessica appeared with her laptop and a series of pictures that had clearly been rejected by Embarrassing Bodies. She was even more excited than the GP. “Look at this one, Dad. It hasn’t just gone up his leg and into his groin. It’s infected his – ”
“Thank you, Jessica. I can see what it’s infected. And ‘no’ is the answer to your next question. Not yet, anyway.”
Ben wasn’t far behind. “Dad, I’ve looked up that thing you’ve got on Wiki. It says it’s related to a flesh-eating bug.”
He seemed rather pleased. Something to brag about at school. His Dad was turning into a Zombie…