Patients are kindly requested to speak softly and to leave quietly to avoid disturbing the doctor’s nap during your consultation.
In addition to increasing hardness of hearing, there have been frequent episodes of vertigo over the past 12 months. During these interludes a twist of the head is followed by a swimming sensation; the world moves, sliding ever to my right; images swarm, kaleidoscope-like, chasing each other endlessly, clockwise, around my visual field. It is an intriguing symptom, drunkenness without alcohol. Remarkable cheap, really. People pay good money for bad chemicals to achieve these experiences. It makes my ENT surgeon jealous, resentful, motivated to act.
And when the ENT saw an 11% discrepancy in acuity between the failing right ear and the failed left, he mentioned an MRI. When he heard of my increasing vertigo over the past 12 months, he wrote out a request slip. The request slip might be paraphrased as follows:
1. The patient is deaf, ie old; this condition will worsen but will, like all things, pass.
2. The patient is a doctor, ie hypochondriachal. He requires an MRI in order to cure him of his hypochondriachal fears, and as a punishment for having symptoms.
3. During the procedure, please confine his head in a shoebox, then slide that head into an extremely confined space and assault his damaged ears with mechanical sounds at high volume. During this time, so confine him that he is entirely unable to move. If he has never suffered claustrophobia before this, please assure him that the days of calm inside his head are over.
4. Do not warn him that during his MRI he can expect to wet himself in sheer terror.
5. Ensure that the young technician who asks him to disrobe is female, charming and attractive. Tumescence will then fight against incontinence.
As you will appreciate the MRI represents the Himalayas of medicine where peak ethics gaze across at the highpoint of patient autonomy and comfort.
Before the scan you fill out a form in which you declare your body’s absence of internal metallic items. The list is long and the list of patients who can say “no” to all these is a shrinking one. Nowadays it is as difficult to qualify for MRI as for cremation. In my unserenity, I might prefer the latter; at least you don’t have to hang around waiting nervously for the report.
“Please take off all your clothes excepting your underpants.” It is not every day that a 67 year old gentleman receives an invitation of this nature from an attractive young woman. I am happy to oblige. She permits me to retain my kippah (skullcap – “no bobby pins please) and my socks. A gent in his socks is the epitome of the sexless vertebrate.
I might just as well wear a chastity belt. Continue reading