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Just Your Usual Saturday Morning Spent Scoring Drugs…

Cold and Tired
Cold and Tired

I’m not sure what my dream Saturday morning looks like, but whatever fantasy I entertain in my spare time, I’m fairly certain the beginning of the weekend doesn’t involve a short night’s sleep, wrestling a toddler into a snowsuit, driving to Slater Street downtown Ottawa in a blizzard and frigid temperatures, and sitting around at the only walk-in-clinic that is willing to see children.

I remember the last time none of us was sick. It’s a very precise timeframe, actually: from December 31, where I coughed my way to Argentina, to February 4, when we came back to Ottawa. During our trip, we were reasonably healthy. But back on frozen land, we are sick again.

I wish people would stop claiming cold kills germs, because such harsh temperatures also kills your immune system.

It started in October, when Mark was attending bankrupt-daycare #1. He got sick, I got sick, Feng got sick and we traded germs like the EU trades cheese and wine until we boarded the Air Canada flight to South America.

And now the cycle started again.

I pretty much made my peace with the idea that we will all have a lingering cold until the weather gets better, but we can’t get too sick either.

So on Saturday morning, we dragged ourselves to the walk-in clinic to score drugs, hopefully an antibiotic for Mark. Remember these antibiotic awareness campaigns that claim that “antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily” and “don’t fight viral infections”? I’m totally on board. Except when it comes to my kid, of course. Because if Mark doesn’t get better staying indoors and taking over-the-counter grape-flavoured Children Advil, at one point, we have to do something. A sick Mark is a cranky Mark. And you know who is crankier? Me, because I can’t fucking work when Mark is home “sick”.

“Alright, I undress him and you do the talking.”

This was our battle plan. You need one at the walk-in clinic, because you don’t know the doctor on duty and you will only get about two minutes of face time before your faith (or the one of your kid) is settled.

Fortunately, you have plenty of time to devise a battle plan because even at 8 a.m. on a snowy Saturday morning, the waiting room is full of disgustingly sick people trying to score drugs as well. I hate them. Especially the parents of the little girl who just coughed on Mark.

Oops, Mark just coughed back on her. We are even.

I’m not in a good mood when I’m waiting at the clinic. But I’m wise enough to keep my sarcasms to myself and I focus on our storyboard. “Yes, fever, no he is eating, yes he goes to daycare, Mark please stop doing whatever you are doing, yes his shots are up to date we are not one of these crazy anti-vaccination families.”

An hour later, we are finally allowed to take a seat in the exam room. I should be happy but I know we are about to wait longer. I know the drill now, I’ve seen doctors way many times this year.

Mark is cranky and I don’t blame him. He is overheating in his snowsuit and there is nothing to keep him busy but the poster encouraging STD testing on the wall, which is of limited interest for a toddler—and us.

Finally, the nurse checks on us and the doctor follows a few minutes later.

“… He has a weird dark spot in his mouth.”

“Chocolate. He just ate a chocolate egg.”

The doctor looks strangely relieved and mutters something that sounds like “Amoxicillin” before leaving the room.

“I think we got it,” I whisper to Feng.

“Same one as last time, right?”


Yes, this is the third time since October that Mark is prescribed Amoxicillin, an all-purpose antibiotic for bacterial infections.

Among parents, it’s known as “Amox” and it comes in two flavours—banana and grape. Our household is partial to banana, this is one of these polarizing choices sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Just kidding. Whatever Mark likes. You’d have to pay me a lot of money to swallow a dose of the cold and gooey medicine (pills! Pills rock!), but he doesn’t mind too much.

The nurse delivers the prescription with the usual recommendations we are now familiar with, and we are on our way.

I feel like Renton in Trainspotting when he scores drugs. Wait—wasn’t his first name Mark in the movie?


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