Wednesday, 30 November 2011

FATHER FORGETS by W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms
around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly after wards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!"

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much, yet given too little of myself. Promise me, as I teach you to have the manners of a man, that you will remind me how to have the loving spirit of a child.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Dear Almighty,

It's been quite a long while since we talked. I know it is entirely my fault. I hereby ask for your never ending forgiveness. I think I should start by saying a big THANK YOU for all your great works. And indeed, they are numerous. On the sixth day for instance, all the credit goes to you for creating employment for all medical personnel. Other works include helping us to get by medical school much as studying there sometimes practically translates to student + dying. My gratitude to you is immeasurable. Today however, I have several issues I need to bring to your attention.

Now that the pre clinical years are gone, the climb uphill just got steeper. This means I no longer deal with books only, but now more directly with those you require of me to help, and those who you have put to teach me. I therefore ask four things from you as I embark on my clerkship next year onwards.

Keep me safe from all nosocomial infections. I know the system I am placed in does not provide as much safety as would be required. I also know you work under different terms. Your protective cover is universal, and is always available for those who ask for it. Sometimes we do not even have to ask for it, yet it is still there. That is written in all the good books. So here I am again asking for your protective care.

Enable me to have mental clarity. What good is a doctor if they cannot maintain their cool? I have experienced some of the tough things the system puts my mind through. How easy it is to forget important terms, how limited my mental capacity is and even how my body lets me down at times. Only you are in the position to give constant renewal, only you can fix what is beyond me. For all its worth, I ask for lucidity.

Clear my path of all nurse's, resident's or attending's malice. Yes, you are aware of how bureaucratic the medical system gets. Everyone can be edgy sometimes. For reasons best known to them and perhaps Satan himself, they lose all benevolence and get on a dreaded medic-annihilation rampage. It is for this reason that I pray for the safety of my neck.

Lastly, I ask you to take good care of all who I am in this journey with. Lecturers, fellow medics, friends and those I love. You know what they fear, all that drives them forward and everything that keeps them on course. It is said that you are omniscient and much as I am a man of science, I do believe that. So as you walk with me, I ask you to hold their hands too so we all move together.

When all is said and done, you are the sole reason for all this. Hence again, I thank you. It is said you work in mysterious ways, I believe that too. I will be waiting for a response, a sign, e-mail, text or maybe just a small inner voice: whatever it is, I will be waiting.

Yours sincerely,
The Bush Doctor

Monday, 21 November 2011


If you believe that dead men tell no tales then stop reading this for just a sec. Yes, I am talking to you: STOP. Now that I have your attention, laugh at yourself: laugh real hard. You might as well believe in a black Santa Claus, wildebeests pulling his cart on the dunes of the Kalahari Desert and pigmies helping him dish out kola nuts. Now that you have laughed at yourself let me get to the point. The only way we get to learn human anatomy is by keenly listening to dead men. Enter the rendezvous point (the morgue). I may have been high on formalin half the time I was there, but I do have a tale or two from the dead to share. So sit back, read on and enjoy these stories.

Tale #1: Muscles sure are a piece of work!
From their Latinised names, to knowing their relations, attachments, nerves and blood supply; these were some of the hardest tales to master from the dead. The paradox is that most of the large muscles have short names (example gluteus maximus) while the most of the small ones have hyper-extended names (talk of levator labii superioris alequi nasi). The latter muscle, by the way, is a facial muscle which when in bilateral use makes one resemble a beaver or something.

Tale #2: Breasts aren’t all they seem to be.
And I quote, ‘let’s talk about this beautiful structure called the breast.’ Breasts are a vital component of the human being. From nurturing young ones, to being a focal point of feminine aesthetics and playing a major role once lights are off: they are central to the completeness of female anatomy. (For guys reading this, take a moment of silence and think how the world would be without breasts) But did you know that breasts are modified sweat glands? For the record, I am talking about natural breasts here. Anything after a visit to a cosmetic surgeon is, well: just a modified……balloon..?

Tale #3: Hips do lie
The truth, at last! You see those well crafted parts of feminine anatomy that men ogle at, they are all an illusion. Let me expound. Hips are bony protrusions of the proximal femur (thigh bone) that are accentuated by a wide feminine pelvic girdle. What makes them look supple and rounded is the skin and the ample padding of fat underneath. I bet the Maker looked at this part of His creation and said, ‘Now that my friends, is how to keep that guy Adam staring.’

All these and more stories we hear from the dead help us later to cure the living. So for all those who ask me why I am still a medic yet we frequently deal with the dead, now you have your answer. It is an interesting experience (no weirdo). Were it not for the putrid formalin, 'communications' with the dead would be next to impossible. Just so we are clear, ‘putrid’ here translates to the smell of a well blended cocktail of a kg of crushed onions and about a liter of stale urine. In the end however, one thing stands astute: God’s creations are supremely exquisite.


It is said that men and women will never get along. Maybe it is because we all want different things. Men definately want women; but what women want, that is hard to tell. However, one thing that all normal men and women should agree on is that some chauvinistic jokes can be funny. I stumbled upon a few gags which I think you would want to check out:

Thought 1
When we are born, our mothers get the complements and the flowers
When we are married, our brides get the presents and the publicity
When we die, our widows get the life insurance
What do women want to be liberated from?

Thought 2
The average man’s life consists of:
Twenty years of having his mother ask him where he is going
Forty years of having his wife ask him the same question
And at the end, mourners wondering too where he is going

Thought 3
Everyone in the wedding ceremony was watching the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle to give her away to the groom. Once they reached the alter, the bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand as the groom waited. Everyone in the room was wondering what the bride had given her father.

The father could feel the cloud of curiosity in the air as all eyes were on him; prodding him to divulge the secret and say something. So he announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, today is the luckiest day of my life…’ He then went on to raise his hand and that of his daughter and continued, ‘My daughter finally…, finallyyy returned my credit card to me!’

The whole audience, the priest inclusive, burst into hysterical bouts of laughter: all save for the poor groom!

Thought 4
A man was walking down the street when he heard a voice from behind, ’if you take another step, a brick will fall on your head and kill you.’ So he stopped and the brick fell right in front of him. The man was astounded. He went on and after a while he was about to cross the road when the same voice shouted, ‘Stop! Stand still! If you take another step a car will run you over and you will die.’

So the man stopped and a car came careening around the corner barely missing him. Overwhelmed with curiosity, the man asked, ‘who are you?’ ‘I am your guardian angel’, the voice replied.

‘Oh yeah?’ said the man, ‘and where the hell were you when I got married?'

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I must admit that I have just had the longest three weeks this year. Somehow, the gods want to prolong the three week streak by adding a fourth week! In fact, I am still negotiating with them for a hiatus. I thought it would be prudent to jot down a few remarks from the three-week experience as I wait for their reply:

1. I officially accept that medicine is a grey area. For starters, any medical experiences (like exams) that turn you from a ‘doctor hopeful’ to a ‘pessimistic-optimist’ are proof of this. Other grey things include the 2.5kg grey's anatomy textbook, grey stethoscopes, and the plenty of grey I have been seeing lately every time I open my closet!

2. This goes to all medical students. If you have an oral exam and an inner voice tells you that an Egyptian lecturer might to oral you, please turn around and scurry for your life as fast as your distal appendages can carry you. An exception is if this Egyptian lecturer is one Prof. Malek of Embryology. You see, Romans crucified wrong doers; Egyptians on the other hand have a thing for medical students. After they crucify you mentally, they might mummify your brains just because they can. (yes, I had an Egyptian examiner for my orals)

3. I think I have a case of mild egyptiophobia. (Refer to sentiment no. 2)

4. ........Screw fear. (now that’s what I call a fast recovery)

5. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I am still working on the physiological and anatomical explanation to this theory. In the meantime, it is safe to assume that men with dysgeusia, esophageal stenosis, GERD and other intestinal pathologies DO NOT conform.

6. The line between straight and gay is getting thinner by the day. I partly blame Kenyan TV stations and all the soaps they have been airing lately.

7. The only person who can solve your problems is you. Other people only serve to guide you, or help you realize how stupid you are. From me to you, this is so true.

8. ‘A bro leaves the toilet seat up for his bros’. Ref: Article 81 of Barney Stinson and Michael Kuhn’s Bro Code. That book is a must read for all the bros!

9. Many writers suffer from depression or a bipolar disorder at one time in their lives. This is bad news and it gets worse:

10. ‘He who lives by the sword dies by the sword!’ That’s the writing on the wall in my former hostel room. I caught a glimpse of it amidst a heated argument with this angry halls custodian. Well, since I’d still like to become a surgeon someday and live by ‘the scalpel’, a little part of me wonders how all that will end. But alas, I digress from the main reason I am here. That regardless where life takes me, I’m bent on living great so I can die free.

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