Thursday, April 26, 2012


As much as I tried, I found nothing wrong with her.

She was beautiful, amiable, and well dressed. She spoke with an air of confidence, obviously well educated - I would later learn she was a qualified pharmacist.

Let me call her Miss P - She was brought in by her aunt who insisted she was a nut case and should be admitted into the psych ward; Miss P however, insisted her aunt was evil and could not be trusted. Looking at the aunt I couldn't put that beyond her.

The story was straightforward (so I thought). Miss P's mom who was a widow, believed her relatives were evil - she believed this so strongly that she stayed away from any form of communication with them and discouraged any of them visiting.

The mom constantly related this belief to Miss P who subsequently developed the same belief and attitude towards their relatives. She went as far as locking herself indoors to prevent anyone seeing her.

Miss P claimed the relatives had evil intentions towards her mom and herself and she didn't want to have anything to do with them. Looking at the aunt who brought her, I could easily understand this.

However, in the course of my history taking , I learnt Miss P's mom had already been admitted into another psych hospital, this raised my suspicion.

Sensing something wrong somewhere,and getting tired of the back and forth accusations between Miss P and her aunt, I hobbled off to psych to hear what they thought.

Miss P was admitted.

She was admitted as a case of Shared Delusion.

Shared Delusions (Folie a deux).

This is a psychiatric disorder in which a false belief or delusion is firmly held by one person who shares this belief with another; the second person then develops the same false beliefs(delusions) as the first.

There is usually a dominant partner(the mom), with fixed delusions who induces same beliefs in a dependent partner (Miss P).

Treatment is for both individuals to be separated and managed accordingly.

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With special thanks to B.A

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Over the fast food counter, I placed my order.

I was almost caught off guard by her lack lustre response to my request - not one to be daunted, I prepared to tell her off for her un-enthusiastic customer service.

Then I took a second look at her.

Like most doctors I pride myself in being able to make a spot diagnosis of different conditions by just the power of observation and nothing else; I carefully took in the necessary details and came to my conclusion.

I observed the way her eyes were cloudy with a tinge of redness, I noticed how pale she looked and her sallow complexion - the way she weakly attended to me. I was satisfied, the possible options were few, top among them was malaria.

Like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, it was time to confront her with my findings.

I asked if she was ok, she looked at me quizzically wondering whether she should take me seriously or not, she asked why I felt she wasn't fine and I gave her the necessary evidence.

Sensing her reluctance, and knowing I was on the right path, I took my food and confidently told her she could come talk to me when she was ready (probably for a prescription).

As I finished my food and got up to go, I gave her one last chance (for a free medical consultation). She finally agreed and took me to a corner of the counter; swallowing a lump in her throat, and with tears in her eyes, she told me her story.

She had been in a 9 year, long distance relationship.

They had gone as far as being introduced to both families and planning for their upcoming wedding.
Then he called it all off.

She was devastated and didn't know what to do.
Was there still any hope for her? She asked me.

Totally unprepared for this, I stammered a short reply, trying to think of something smart and encouraging to say. Thankfully, as I was going blank,we were interrupted by a new customer.

I hurriedly took my leave with an assurance of being accessible whenever she wanted .

As I left, I breathed a sigh of relief.

What advice should I have given her?

Image courtesy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


"Keep out of the reach of children."


Is it anybody just born? Below 5? Below 13? Below 18?
Could being a child be determined by the state of mind of an individual regardless of age?
Or is a child someone you gave birth to, nursed and nurtured regardless of the present age of the person?

She was just a child.
A girl of 17 who like most teenagers had gone out without permission and had returned home to the scolding of her mum. In a fit of anger she had gone into her room and swallowed contents from an insecticide container.

She was brought in dead.
She sat at the backseat in the shadow of the unlit car, her head bent to one side, tucked into her neck, from the way she sat you would have felt she didn't want to speak with anyone. She was a pretty girl with long dark wavy hair, but now she was cold, very cold with no sign of life.

Who is to blame?
The mother for scolding her? Her stubborness? Childish exuberance? Whoever kept the poisonous insecticide within reach?

Again, did she previously exhibit suicidal tendencies that were overlooked?

Questions, questions, questions.
What poisonous substances are in your home? Are they kept or locked out of reach of children? Are they properly labelled as poisonous?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Being a friend, spouse or relative to a doctor one would surely notice one of the following annoying habits:


We all know there are germs everywhere but doctors take it to a new level, frequently washing hands. Some even go as far as carrying hand sanitizers when they go out.


When a doctor is looking at you, probably on the bus or in the park, he is probably not admiring you but putting a diagnosis to that skin rash or that swelling you have; he is probably itching to jump up and tell you what he thinks you should do, but he won't.


A doctor can remember the most minute detail about a patient but forget important dates that have to do with him and his family like anniversaries and child school activities.


A cursory glance at a doctor's phone contact list will show a long list of Dr this and Dr that, probably taking up about 70 percent of the contacts list.


Most doctors have no problem falling asleep in the most uncomfortable place or unusual time, probably due to their long reading hours and call duties .


Closely related to No. 4, Doctors are usually poor conversationists, they always tend to float towards the direction they are most comfortable with: Medicine.


Doctors are usually carefree when talking about death sometimes forgetting the person being spoken to may be sensitive not being as exposed to death as they are.


Really had to consider before adding this, but yes i did.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012



I watched the tears form a mist in his glasses as he struggled to keep the tears from falling. His attempt to put up a brave front failing completely in that brief moment of human frailty. I felt pity for him; my own hardened demeanour softening with this display of affection. Concerned for him, I stopped what I was doing to focus on him.

He was not the patient.

The patient was his wife.
She lay there, a shadow of a human being, her skeletal structure easily envisioned, as if trying to liberate itself from underneath her pale, sagging skin. She groaned in acute pain, vomiting continuosly.

She was HIV positive.

He wasn't.
Amazingly, they had been married several years despite being a young couple. Their last child was six. All three children were also HIV negative.
My attention went back to him, with a new found respect and admiration, i saw the love in his eyes as he looked upon his sick wife, i noticed the gentle way he had cared for her while in the hospital, and now this, tears. Tears of fear; the woman whom he loves wasn't getting any better despite being on drugs.

The obvious questions.

When did she contract the virus? How did she contract it? And most importantly, how had the children and more especially the husband escaped being infected?

Unfortunately, this is not an article about how some individuals are naturally immune to the HIV virus despite adequate exposure to it (scientifically proven).

This is an article about love.

The love of a husband who sticks with his wife in her time of greatest need, who stands by her despite public ridicule, who loves her despite imperfections; and who will stick with her come what may. A husband who refuses to be judgemental but accepts his fate knowing there are no guarantees in life.

I did what little i could to allay their fears and concerns; i even told the story of the lady with HIV and TB who got better just to reassure them.
As they left, a new found hope in their eyes, I learnt a valuable lesson about life .

So are you for better or worse?

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