I traveled across Australia last week by air from Perth in Western Australia to Cairns in the far north of Queensland. The 3500km trip involved a brief stop in Uluru (Ayers Rock). As I looked out of the window throughout the journey I saw the changing landscape and was amazed by the beauty and the vastness of the red/brown earth passing beneath me.
But I also started to develop a feeling of unease, some symptoms that I couldn’t quite explain. I was concerned, what was happening to me? Was it something I ate? What was it about this remarkable trans-Australia journey that was doing this to me?
Luckily my symptoms resolved, but I was intrigued and perturbed. So in an attempt at self diagnosis I scoured the literature to find out about my condition.
I came up with this single case report which provides a fitting description and diagnosis. I will reproduce it here on Life in the Fast Lane for your educational benefit.
The day would soon arrive when I could not ignore the rash
I was obviously ill and so I called on Doctor Nash
This standard consultation would adjudicate my fate
I walked into his surgery and gave it to him straight
“Doc, I wonder if you might explain this allergy of mine
I get these pins and needles running up and down my spine
From there, across my body, it will suddenly extend
My neck will feel a shiver and the hairs will stand on end
And then there is that symptom that a man can only fear
It’s a choking in the throat and the crying of a tear”
Well, the doctor scratched his melon with a rather worried look
His furrowed brow suggested that the news to come was crook
“What is it Doc?” I motioned “Have I got a rare disease?
I’m man enough to cop it sweet so give it to me please”
“Well I’m not too sure” he answered, in a puzzled kind of way
“It seems you’ve got some kind of fever but it’s hard for me to say
When is it that you feel this most peculiar condition?”
I thought for just a moment and then I gave him my position
“Doc, I get it when I’m standing in an Anzac Day parade
And I get it when the anthem of my native land is played
I get it when Meninga makes a Kiwi-crunching run
And when AB grits his teeth to score a really gutsy ton
And I got it back in ‘91 when Farr-Jones held the Cup
And I got it when Japan was stormed by Better loosen Up
I get it when the Banjo takes me down the Snowy River
And Matilda sends me waltzing with a billy-boiling shiver
It hit me hard when Sydney was awarded with the Games
And I get it when I see our farmers fighting for their names
It flattened me when Bertrand raised the Boxing Kangaroo
And when Perkins won from lane eight, well, the rashes were true blue
So tell me Doc” I questioned “Am I really gonna die?”
He broke into a smile before he looked me in the eye
As he fumbled with his stethoscope and pushed it out of reach
He wiped away a tear and then he gave this stirring speech:
“From the beaches here in Queensland to the sweeping shores of Broome
On the Harbour banks of Sydney where the Waratah’s in bloom
From Uluru at sunset to the mighty Tasman Sea
In the Adelaide cathedrals, at the roaring MCG
From the Great Australian Bight up to the Gulf of Carpentaria
The medical profession call it ‘Green and Gold Malaria’
But forget about the textbooks son, the truth I shouldn’t hide
The rash that you’ve contracted here is ‘good old Aussie pride’
I’m afraid that you were born with it and one thing is for sure
You’ll die with it young man because there isn’t any cure”
Thank you to Rupert McCall for his case report.