The Hypocritic Oath

The Early Years

So mother tells me, I was quite a normal baby, despite being premature and underweight.

I can remember being “weak and sickly and failing to thrive” though that may not have been true initially. I was too young to remember at the time, and mother is now too old.

Anyway, what I can remember is that shortly after going to school (so I’d be around five) I became very ill. I remember mother fetching me home from school (she was either working in that school or the one next door at the time). I remember being in pain, having a temperature and slipping in and out of a hallucinatory haze. Sometimes when I woke up I was in bed, sometimes in an armchair propped up with pillows. Sometimes one or both of my parents were there, sometimes my gran, sometimes an aunt.

The first culprit was mumps.

Just as I had gotten over that and was about to come out of “quarantine” I became covered with itchy spots. Chickenpox!

I actually went back to school for a while after that one was over, and shortly afterwards I got measles so was off again.

Now I’m not entirely sure of the actual timescale or order of all this, or even how much of it is relevant.

However it was around the same time that I restarted wetting the bed.

Sometimes it wasn’t even my bed! I’d wake up and get into my parents’ bed, fall asleep again and whoosh!

It wasn’t always or only urine either, sometimes I’d wake up soaked in sweat, and sometimes trembling and feeling incredibly cold, and sometimes almost unable to move.

Now this is where it all started to go wrong. Until then the doctors had spotted the acute illnesses correctly. However this was put down to “neurosis” and “anxiety”.

In retrospect I can see what was happening. Hint: what disease is typified by nocturia and nocturnal hypos?

The sweats could come at any time in the night though usually in the wee small hours (pun intended). The bedwetting was almost inevitably in the morning, and responded quite well to

[1] no longer drinking my bedtime drink of Horlicks, Ovaltine, Milo or cocoa

[2] getting up to pee immediately I awoke

Now one characteristic of poor doctors is that they appear to believe you may only have one illness at a time.

A corollary of this is that if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, everything else that happens is blamed on that disease although it may not be connected at all.

Following on from this, any form of psychiatric diagnosis means that thereafter no physical illnesses can occur.

And the last stage, found predominantly but not exclusively in elderly male doctors, is that being female counts as a psychiatric diagnosis in itself. Thus a woman may have TSH in the stratosphere or advanced cancer and be assured it is “women’s problems”. If I’d also been female I may not still be here.

A characteristic of good doctors is that they don’t think like this – and I’ve had enough of both types that I can now tell the difference.

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