Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Mr. C had been to several other physicians, trying to get rid of the pains he's been having in his side. After months of poking and prodding and one test after another, it finally became clear that an operation was needed.

However, being absolutely terrified of surgery, he had delayed the decision go ahead with the operation for quite some time. But it had finally gotten to the point where he just couldn't take the pain anymore and he decided, reluctantly, to pursue surgery.

So Mr. C came to the clinic to complete the necessary paperwork and for a final visit prior to his operation. One of the other doctors had seen him already and pretty much completed all of the paperwork, but left out a few forms. She had to leave to see another patient emergently and asked if I could finish up. After getting a short briefing about the patient and the planned surgery, I knocked on the door and went into the room to talk to Mr. C and get the necessary signatures.

Upon entering the room, I saw a mournful Mr. C, no doubt fearing the upcoming surgery. I tried my best to put him at ease while simultaneously explaining the planned surgical procedure in detail. At one point, while I was talking about the lack of alternatives to treat his condition, his face lit up.

I could tell from his body language that he wanted to interject, so I paused.

Mr. C: Doctor, can I ask a question?

Me: Of course.

Mr. C: [moves in close and lowers his voice into a hushed tone] I mean no offense, but isn't there some kind of ancient secret Oriental medicine you can do?

As he asked me this, he moved his hands around as if he was performing a magic trick.

I tried to maintain a straight face, but then I started laughing so hard that I started choking. Mr. C looked a little offended.

I told him that sadly I knew of no ancient secrets. But if I had, I definitely would not have hesitated to apply them for his pain.