DOCTOR CLOUSEAU? (Or the Value of Humour.)
1969. I had been feeling ‘under the weather’ for a few months and – as it had just been introduced – my wise old doctor advised me to have a ‘smear test,’ to be carried out as soon as possible. This was soon arranged.
With three of my desired children born, the youngest son not yet one year old, a business to run (a large greengrocers/grocer’s shop) and a husband on the verge of having an ulcer, I did not want to hear my doctor announce: ‘An operation is advised, as soon as it can be arranged,’ after one of the first smear test results came back positive… That was on a Monday and I entered my local hospital and had an operation on the following Friday; so hurray for a speedy National Health Service, then.
The dreaded word: ‘Cancer’ was rarely mentioned in those days and was feared like the Plague… so I told my biggest lie ever, and said I had a gynaecological problem – which was sorta true…(didn’t want to worry the folks unduly).
All went well: I received excellent treatment and had the necessary operation. and was elated, despite having to stay in hospital for two long weeks…(Gold stars for my darling Mum and husband for coping in my absence.)
On release, I felt so well I did a good shop, cleaned the apartment where
needed, and cooked a celebratory dinner for us all. And then I haemorrhaged. ..Imagining a clanging ambulance dash to hospital to receive pints of blood, I was shocked to be told by the Matron on the phone to:
‘Put your bed on blocks, tear up a sheet, climb in and lie still until your doctor arrives.’ Gulp! Oh dear. Hours later (after desperately trying hard not to cough or even move) a young, most annoyed, gruff, assistant doctor arrived.
“You’re very lucky, you know!” he said, frowning. (!?) Adding, as if to explain his august appearance: ‘Doctor Smithers is on holiday. I’m Doctor Hammond.’ (I could hardly have curtsied!)
Injecting me with a needle the size of the Post Office Tower building – seeming surprised when I winced, he then gave me a HUGE tablet, on which I nearly choked. (No exaggeration). I wondered, briefly, about his marital bedside manner, for his ‘professional’ one was the pits…I was still doubled up in pain (was that an ‘Exit’ sign I spotted on my retina?!) Meanwhile, he treated me as a damned nuisance, which silently confirmed he had risen from the wrong side of his bed that morning. Fortunately, for the state of my mind, things changed.
After a few, perfunctory questions and ‘advice’ the reluctant doctor closed his black case resting on the bed, ignorantly trapping the cord of my husband’s striped pyjamas just peeping from beneath a pillow and proceeded to drag them across the floor like a comatose tiger. I had difficulty in restraining a giggle, but the entertainment wasn’t over, no siree. In his haste to escape, the doctor tripped over one of the bed blocks and flew through the – lucky for him – open doorway. By then, despite the pain, I was convulsed with laughter. Red-faced and furious, he returned to the room and released said offending pyjama trousers from his case. The patient lived. The cure? Humour…
That was over fifty years ago, and the memory still makes me smile.