Once upon a time, I was at Death’s door.

I’d lost pints of blood and was in the process of losing more. I’d had a bumpy ambulance ride from a cosy community hospital to the huge impersonal London satellite infirmary which had an operating theatre which could handle me.

They clattered me on one of those wheelie trolleys through the VIP door of the surgical wing, at an alarming rate. Some kindly Indian nurses were shouting at me shrilly to keep me in the land of the living.

And then a very nice young doctor sailed into the melee, and introduced himself. He had blue eyes, foppish blonde hair, a deeply capable air and that easy public school charm I have always fallen for.

Immediately I miraculously forgot i) that I was in my forties and he a spring chicken, ii) that I was wearing an unbecoming green surgical gown with absolutely nothing covering my bottom, and sporting a corpse-like pallor most unflattering and iii) that I was at Death’s door.

A scandalised Death propped his scythe against the wall to watch as, unbelievably, I began to flirt.

“Hello!” came the clueless little girl voice which has worked so well on so many occasions, but not in the last two decades. “Do you know, you look like a cross between my husband and one of my best friends!”

Not the best chat up line: mention of husband not a promising start, but the body was running on empty and waiting for a refill, and the mind is rarely totally focussed at such times.

Graciously, Dr. Gorgeous responded with seamless banter:”Oh, well; your husband must be a very handsome man indeed…”

The nurses all tittered coquettishly. Clearly, I was not the only one under the dashing doctor’s spell.

I assured him that indeed he was, and briefly considered continuing with the witty repartee; but my record so far was dismal, and even with a couple of pints doing a flat race round the old bod, speed of transfer was no replacement for sheer quantity. I was deplorably dull in my infirmity. Curses, I thought muddily.

Sometime during the next two hours, as Dr Gorgeous did his surgical stuff, Death shrugged his shoulders, disgusted, and trudged disconsolately out of the doors to go and bother someone else. This Doctor and his colleagues had ensured my family would see me tomorrow , and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

What a dashing hero.

These doctors; it’s no wonder they fascinate us. They turn up in our hour of need, all capability and intellect.

And yet when you prick them, do they not bleed? Despite inspiring a gamut of emotions and holding life in their hands, they have their moments. They are the same as any cross-section of the population: only very, very clever.

Our storytelling has its share of good doctors, and its measure of dubious ones.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the good corner, I bring you Dr Zhivago, Boris Pasternak’s lonely physician who is buffeted by the events of Russia in the first half of the twentieth century. A man of great principle, his ideals are in direct opposition to the brutal regime in mother Russia. And though he finds the love of his life, she is not destined to be his for eternity.

He shares the white corner with Dr John Seward, created by Bram Stoker to fall in love with a beautiful aristocrat who falls victim to the foul Nosfiratu. Β He calls in another knight against the darkness, that slightly crackpot Dr Abraham Van Helsing, and between them they use their medical knowledge to battle and transfuse.

Dr Dolittle talks to animals; Dr Watson is the affable human side to Sherlock Holmes’ slightly crazed brilliance. The list goes on.

But here I leave it, to turn to the dark side.

And oh, how attractive these Machiavellian medics are! Born of parents who are not noble, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus makes his way in the world using his intellect. Every subject he studies, he has reached its conclusion. So he turns to magic, seeks out the necessary incantations, draws a magic circle and Β makes a pact with Lucifer himself.

Dr Jekyll we have met before. He has all the knowledge but all the conscience too, and this last weighs heavy. So he makes a potion to transform himself into one who can do evil and not count the cost. the resulting exhilaration becomes addictive.

And who can forget Dr Julius No, Ian Fleming’s anti-hero, who has his finger in so many pies? His organisation harvests guano: another day job includes sabotaging American missile tests.

But his first love is the study of how the human body can withstand pain and stress. Mr Bond provides the perfect guinea pig.

All human, and slightly inhuman, life is there, in the medical profession.

The gravity of doctoring has come in useful for centuries of tales; and was used by one of France’s most gentle, undulating composers to lampoon formality and make a little girl laugh.

Claude Debussy, it was, who wrote a study calledΒ ‘Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum. It made fun of the technical studies his daughter Chou-chou would have had to labour at day after day.

‘Gradus ad Parnassum’, or ‘The Steps To Parnassus” was a set of formal studies for piano. And it borrows the name of Doctor to add mock pomp.

Hard work for little fingers. Debussy shows a profound, gentle exuberance towards his daughter which penetrates like an arrow-head to the core of the soul. It is intricate, sweeping, working on every level to charm the soul.

Much, Reader, as that charming surgeon who sent Death packing, that night at the hospital.

37 thoughts on “Medic

  1. Doctor’s huh?
    ‘ Cant’ live with ’em, can’t live without ’em’- as a friend of mine put it. Paraphrased by another friend as
    ‘Can’t live with’ em, can’t live with ’em,” – but then she had a jaundiced view of life and a bad line of doctor dare experiences on the romance front.

    So glad your public school boy doc was on his toes and operating on all cylinders that day your were wheeled in through the emergency doors. Being a nurse, of course I am most intrigued to know what was causing the loss of blood and which surgical procedure staunched the flow and corrected the problem – but maybe that’s too much information and off the point of the blog, for which I ask your forgiveness.

    My own tame doctor, Dr Cycloman is of course very handsome and has a nice dry sense of humour. And sense of humour, in my book and in my experience is one of the most important aspects of life and living together under one roof.

    1. Ah, married to a Doc πŸ™‚ How divine. And convenient, too! I’ll answer yours if you answer mine: did you both meet at work? A nurse-noctor romance?
      My emergency dash started with little ceremony: an utterly routine op, but the stitches weren’t quite up to scratch. Eight pints out, eight pints in.

      1. Yes, we met as students… real Mills and Boon stuff πŸ™‚

        I’m glad… no very glad, you didn’t exsanguinate: but you gave it a bloo*y good try πŸ™‚

  2. Loved: A scandalised Death propped his scythe against the wall to watch as, unbelievably, I began to flirt.

    You are not to be held accountable for flirting with medical practicioners after suffering extensive blood loss. After BFF’s recent surgery, he flirted shamelessly with the nurses discharging him. I attribute it to the drugs.

    I’m not a nurse, like Pseu, but I also wondered as to the cause of the blood letting.

    Ghoulish, I know.

    I’ve had a number of surgeries . . . all with good results due to excellent care by doctors and nurses who (unlike Dr. Julius No) gave me plenty of morphine & codeine to keep me from ever having to find out how much pain I could withstand.

    1. Good to be operated on by the good guys, Nancy πŸ™‚ And with the full compliment of eight pints I would not have countenanced a flirt.
      I went into hospital for a routine op of little consequence, but within six hours was back on the table with internal haemorrhaging. They did a thorough job the second time, but I had to stay a grim week in that hospital. It made me resolve to won the lottery and live out my days in a mansion with loving family and a flotilla of private nurses, sucking caviar through a straw: being old in a place like that would be too grim for words.. I longed for my village hospital a few miles away.

  3. I’ll wager that the moment you began to flirt, Dr. Gorgeous said to himself, “Aha, this one is going to be fine.” I’m so glad he did his part to make that happen.

  4. How very frightening that must have been. You deserved a knight in shining scalpel, er armor, to stem the flow of blood and bring you back to.

    I’ve had a few surgeries in my time, some scheduled, one not. That pesky appendix can rear it’s head. I actually sent my husband off to a church camp and then promptly drove myself to the hospital, thinking they would give me a little something to ease the pain, which wasn’t all that bad, and send me on my merry way. Boy, was I wrong.

    1. They say always bring a packed bag with you, don’t they, Penny? The very words strike ice into my soul.
      It was frightening: it is good to be the other side of it. Thinks: thanks, Dr Gorgeous.

  5. I am so glad the lovely doctor did his thing and kept you here for your loved ones (and the others?)

    We attributte god-like status to the medics and when they don’t know all, can’t fix all, or (heaven forbid) make a mistake we pull them down of the god-pedestal with such anger and vindictiveness. They too bleed, they too have bad days.

    I worry sometimes over the sheer cost of medical practice, will doctors just all have to end up starting out (at least that) in some form of government service because they just can’t afford the sheer cost of medical practitioner’s insurance. Do those who sue make it safer for us to go to the doctor, or just more costly?

    I suspect (somewhere in the back of my nasty suspicious mind) that some of them develop really good smiles just because they do have to smile to remove our fears. BUt then why don’t dentisis have even better smiles?

    1. *Shudder* Dentists are a different breed all together….
      Here our state umbrella covers our doctors with our National Health Service. We are very, very lucky. But litigation is an every present threat. I feel that doctors should be allowed to make mistakes, and indeed, my dash happened as a result of one. Mistakes are compariaively rare, and the NHS looks after so many, young and old.

      1. I am sometimes reminded by a dear cousin of mine that doctors are, after, in a career in which they are “practicing medicine” – practicing being the word.

  6. Interesting – on my numerous conversations with Death, I have been helped toward him or away from him, depending on the doctor in charge. To some I owe my life, to others I owe something else. . .something obscene comes to mind. . .

  7. Thank heavens, the flirtation probably caused him to try all the harder to save you.
    BTW, in your forties? I had you at about 32!

  8. From my recent experiences, I think that flirting is part of the doc’s job to encourage you to respond and not give up the ghost. I think the vast majority are flirts. Glad you made it, Kate. ::D

  9. Kate, I’m so glad you were okay.

    I don’t quite agree that doctors SHOULD be allowed to make mistakes; I prefer to say that they shouldn’t necessarily be punished for them.

  10. Another really good piece. Much enjoyed. I once insisted I was well enough to leave a hospital after an operation and fainted out cold in reception whilst paying the bill. I came round flat on my back with my legs in the air with the MOST gorgeous male nurse smiling down at me. I went all melty and agreed that as my bed hadn’t been unmade yet I’d better go back up to it… I never saw him again but I can still picture him!

    And of course there’s nice Charles Bovary (Madame Bovary), Lidgate (Middlemarch) and Mr Gibson (Wives & Daughters) – all of whom, whilst respected doctors, make distinctly bad choices in their wives. Ooo this is a fun game!

    1. It is, isn’t it, Earlybird? Once you start it’s difficult to stop…
      Glad I’m not the only one in whom infirmity does not stop a little meltiness…

  11. Wow…quite the drama (you wrote your entry quite poetically, I thought perhaps this was to be a prose/poetry piece). Very glad that the dashing doc encouraged your survival instincts despite the blood loss. Interesting list of the literary doctors, I’m quite partial to the televised ones from my childhood…Trapper John and Hawkeye Pierce ~

    1. I know what you mean, Angela…those telly doctors are irresistible. I just have to keep repeating over and over “they’re only actors, they’re only actors πŸ˜€

  12. “little girl voice which has worked so well on so many occasions, but not in the last two decades” – LOL, Kate!

    A friend who is an early days ‘ER’ tragic and was in love with Dr Green’s character was mortified after coming around from a general anaesthetic to be told that she had said “Where’s Dr Green?” as she went under.

    (I now understand the background to your comment on death on one of my posts from a while ago)

  13. It can’t be easy being a doctor, all that responsibility – and they are, after all, only human. Thank goodness for the good ones (and what a bonus when they’re also gorgeous!) πŸ™‚ Glad you’re still with us, Kate…

  14. I’m smiling! I remember a cardiologist who was called b/c I suffer from breathing difficulty after the CS operation, gawd! He was gorgeous, and I can’t barely breathe! He just hold my hand and says “Everything will be alright,calm yourself and fall asleep.” He isn’t just a doctor, a hypnotizer (is it a word?) too!
    This is a great strory, really fun! πŸ™‚

  15. A most enjoyable spell of playing ‘Doctor-Doctor’! Which, by the way, I can recall as a game not involving any exchanges of anotomical examinations.

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