Tag Archives: Fiction


IMG_0358When you get on the bus or train, or walk into an office, the looks on people’s faces tell, more than words, that they do not like you.It is everywhere: on the road, on the bus, in the supermarket queue, at work, in the hospital, at the children’s playground, at the pub, at the church and even in our own family settings.

People are abound who do not like you. Such people do everything not to like you, even when you do everything you can for a better relationship. They may not like you for reasons of race, beliefs, gender and sexuality or several other reasons. But people can also dislike you for reasons that you cannot understand. Ironically, even if you ask them why they dislike you, they cannot come up with any tangible reason.

Look at the situation with Lucy Davies, for instance. Her boss was after her. There was nothing that Lucy could do right, as far as Sister Simpson was concerned. She followed Lucy everywhere, looking not only over her shoulders but also into her throat. Like Lucy, Dr Chuks suffered in the hands of his boss who saw nothing good about him. Dr Braver did everything to frustrate Dr Chuks despite the fact that he was a fantastic surgeon. Likewise, Sister Barnes was at Nurse Simmonds throat even when she tried to give her patient some hope.

We all encounter people who do not like us in our daily lives. But people do not have to like you. Likewise, you don’t have to like them. Sometimes we are stuck with such people at home and at work, and they challenge our lives. Of course, we feel bad if people do not like us. It is human to feel that way. After all, we human beings are social animals. We feel love and affection. It upsets us when someone shows the opposite. Moreover, we need each other to survive, and so we form friendships as we journey through schooling, childhood and throughout our professional careers.

But what do you do when someone does not like you? In certain situations, whether someone likes you or not doesn’t matter, and you should not let that stress you. This is the case, for instance, when someone gets up from the seat on the bus because you try to sit next to him, or pulls face when you stand next to him on the supermarket queue. Likewise, the guy who pulls his face just because you are different should not bother you. Those people don’t matter and you can choose to ignore them and let them live with the guilt.

What about in those situations when you are “stuck” with someone who does not like you? Such is the situation when you have to live with a difficult or unreasonable boss on whom your future largely depends. It’s easy to let a person with a challenging behaviour ruin your life unless you have effective ways for dealing with him. I have found the following strategies helpful in those difficult situations:

Calm down

The first rule when dealing with a difficult person is to keep your cool. You can deal with most situations if you follow this golden rule. When a person does something bad towards us out of their dislike for us we feel angry or upset. During that charged moment it is pretty easy to overreact. The first rule in the face of an unreasonable person is to maintain your composure. When you feel angry or upset with someone, calm down lest you say or do something you may regret later. The less reactive you are, the more you can engage your faculty to better manage the situation.

Keep your distance

Some situations are not worth the fight. Don’t waste your valuable time tussling with unreasonable people. Unless there is much to lose, don’t try to change or convince such people. Keep your distance when you can, but when you have to interact with them, be diplomatic.


Show your ultimate diligence in whatever you do even when people do not show appreciation. This principle is a life skill and it will help to reduce your stress.

Avoid gossips

It is common in workplace for people to gossip about a difficult boss. Try not to take part in gossips. The same person who tells you something about your is the one who will pass what you have said to him. You will maintain your dignity and self regard by avoiding gossips.

Be proactive rather than reactive

It is very easy to make a wrong judgment about a person just because we believe that he does not to like us. When the person makes an honest criticism, we may see it as part of his dislike even when such criticisms are for our own good. You should view every situation with objectivity, minimise misinterpretation and channel your time and energy towards problem-solving. Avoid direct confrontation.

Try a bit of humour

When used appropriately, humour can be a powerful weapon to disarm a person with difficult or unreasonable behaviour. Dr Chuks, for instance, utilised this tool when he attended Dr Braver’s Christmas party. “What do you give your dogs in Africa?” Dr Braver asked, wanting to ridicule his African colleague as he devoured the pork shin. All the guests turned their attention at the African doctor. But before they could laugh to embarrass him, Dr Chuks replied, smiling, “Oh, we give them chocolate.” All the people burst into laughter. Even Dr Braver could not resist joining in, laughing and clapping.

Stand up to Bullies

As discussed above, you should pick our fights as not all situations are worth the fight. However, you should confront bullies when it is safe to do so. By so doing, you will reduce or eliminate their threatening behaviour, which will ultimately help to increase your confidence and give you peace of mind. Bullies tend to pick on weak ones. It is also to be noted that whilst bullies show an outward aggressiveness they are cowards on the inside. When someone they have perceived to be weak stand up to them they often back down.

Someone is always there

Finally, be encouraged that nothing lasts for ever, even your interaction with someone who does not like you. Sometimes all you have to do is to simply wait and someone else will fight your fight. Dr Chuks, for instance, was lucky to have Dr Saints taking on Dr Braver. Likewise, Samantha Guest had to fulfil her duty of candour to Lucy Davies and Angela Fletcher brought hope to Gail Simmonds.


IMG_2721People often talk about Monday blues, the feeling you get on Monday after you’ve had and enjoyed a work-free weekend. You feel lazy, tired, having no interest, zeal or enthusiasm to do anything. Monday depresses people more than any other day of the week. No wonder, studies have shown that people are more likely to commit suicides on Mondays than any other weekday or weekend. Studies have also shown that most sick- leaves are taken on Mondays. That is the nature of this special day, the first day of the week.

All the nurses on ward 19 knew what Monday was like, as it was the main operation day. If it were the Monday blues alone, Lucy Davies would not be bothered. She knew what to expect, and she always prepared her body and soul for this busy day. But, when you have a boss who not only looks over your shoulders but also into your throat, you feel more blues. Lucy’s cup was full, or to be more precise, over full. That was how she felt, as Sister Bella Simpson followed her round and criticised whatever she did.

Lucy had always wanted to be a nurse since the age of three, after surviving a severe infection with meningococcal meningitis. She would like to care for patients the way nurses had cared for her. Now, a qualified nurse, she faced a murder charge. Her patient had died from a deliberate injection of a toxic chemical. She denied ever doing anything to harm her patient, but no one believed her. Even her colleagues would not rescue her. As for her boss, she could not wait to see her locked away for life.

The police had charged her on the basis that everyone had testified that she was the last person to see Mark Calder alive. How could she kill her patient when, as she claimed, she left the room straightaway? Someone else must have committed the murder. But who was that person? Unless she could produce an alibi, she faced a life imprisonment. Even as she was locked away in solitary confinement, Lucy maintained her innocence,

“I left straightaway, when Sister Simpson asked me to leave,” she informed the police.

“That wasn’t what they told us,” the police officer said. “You remained in the room whilst they left. Yes, staff saw you going to the non-acute bay. But that was several minutes later. That was what all your colleagues said.” And then he stared into Lucy’s soul. And after drawing a long breath, he drew his face closer to hers. “You see, your only alibi, Miss Davies, is Mark Calder. Only him can tell who injected the drug that has killed him. But he’s no more  with us. His young life has been terminated by her nurse, the very nurse that he had trusted,” the officer concluded.

Lucy knew then that there was nothing else she could say. And when the officer finally formally charged her, she knew that her only chance of acquittal hung on the reasoning of the jury. She would argue her case and prove her innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lucy remained locked up in the high security prison. As the police left, and she was left on her own, she wondered if there was anyone, one honest person among her colleagues, who would see it as a duty owned to Mark to report who had murdered him.

DUTY OF CANDOUR available now for download HERE


IMG_1541To say that Christmas is special is an understatement. The religious aspect of Christmas is unquestionable. But there are many things that make Christmas a unique festival. In the weeks leading to Christmas it always looks as if the ground would cave in under the feet of enthusiastic shoppers.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am a last minute shopper. I guess that’s because I am a man. Men typically leave their Christmas shopping to Christmas Eve. There’s something exciting about shopping at the very last minute. Because of time constraints you don’t have time to think long. You just grab whatever you can find but you must grab it before another chap gets hold of it.

Christmas in Africa where I grew up is not the same as in Europe. When I was a child there were no computers, no computer games, no mobile phones, iPads, etc. It was more of friends and families affairs with a great emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas. Food was in abundance. Oh, I love Christmas in Africa.

Christmas time provides an opportunity for people to sell their animals.









In my place, goat is almost always on the Christmas menu. People would try any means to bring their goats home.









When I was a child I used to wonder what was in the minds of the animals whenever I looked at them on the tether. I wondered if they sensed the risks that Christmas posed to them. They tried in their own way to escape their ordeal, including hiding in unusual places.









But Christmas is a time to show love.









It is also a time for peace and reconciliation.






And a time of hope









Thank you for visiting my site. I hope you have had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. Please continue to visit my site as 2016 will be full of mind blowing blogs.

What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

IMG_1204What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days. All the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.

I was the last guest to arrive. At first, I was hesitant to join the guests. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival would turn up and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on. I could hear the chink of glasses amidst the chatter and laughter. Everyone seemed to be in full gear.

“My African friend!” Dr Braver exclaimed with his usual shallow smile, holding a large half empty bottle of Vodka in one hand.

“Good evening,” I said to Dr Braver and his wife. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Mrs Braver replied. Mrs Braver stood by her husband, smiling warmly as she welcomed me into the lavishly decorated banquet hall. She wore an Indian Satin with a matching heavy gold necklace. Dr Braver was looking really posh in his navy blue dinner suit, I almost did not recognise him.

We had expected to have Chinese take-away for the Christmas party, as Dr Braver had said earlier, because his wife could not cook! In truth, I could not say for sure if Mrs Braver actually did the cooking or someone else did. To be honest, I cared less who cooked the food and whether it was Chinese take-away or Cantonese sit down to eat. All I knew was that it looked good and there was a lot of it. The three long tables had all sorts of food displayed and this jumbo was capped with a large whole roasted pock that stood strategically in the middle of all the other food. I had never seen so much food displayed, even back home in Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I cannot say, ‘feel at home,’ as you are already at home. The only thing to say, is that no one leaves until all the food is gone,” Dr Braver said, as we took our seats according to our names on the table.

I wanted to quickly eat my food and get out of this place. But that would look uncivilised. Besides, many of the food items on the table were strange to me. I didn’t have any problem with the pork and rice but I couldn’t figure out how to combine the various items.

“Here you go,” Mrs Braver said, as she placed the plate full of rice, roast potatoes, diced carrots, sprouts and the shin of pork in front of me. She must have thought that I needed a tonne of food to support my one hundred and twenty kilograms body. And she seemed to know my weakness. Meat. I could eat a whole cow.

“Thank you, mam,” I said. She didn’t seem to mind me referring to her as “mam,” which made me feel really relaxed.

I was struggling with the bone of the pork when Dr Braver stood up. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have no doubt you are all enjoying yourselves. Everybody seems happy. I am glad. When you are happy I am happy.”

We all clapped. Not really because of what he had said but there had been a lot of ethanol in our brains.

“And my African friend, you don’t have to crack your canines. There is enough flesh. Makes me wonder what you give your dogs in Africa,” he said and sipped from his bottle of Vodka.

“Oh, we give them plenty of chocolate,” I replied.

And everyone broke into laughter. Initially some people did not understand the joke but as the meaning became clear the laughter was truly unending.

“That’s a good one,” he said, after sipping again at his Vodka.

After the meal, we all dispersed into small gatherings. Dr Braver had undone his tie. He was no more wearing his jacket. His trouser was partly unbuttoned. He sat down in one of the settees, humming a tune with his pipe at the corner of his mouth and a newly opened bottle of Vodka beside him. Completely pissed off, he responded, “Yes,” to every question his wife asked him.

I got back to my flat just before midnight, feeling like I had swallowed an elephant. And as I lay in bed, massaging my stomach, I could not stop wondering what to make of Dr Braver. One thing was certain, the food was tasty and I had a lot of it.

Clear your Clutter

imageClear your Clutter

I visited Martin in response to his wife’s telephone call. I had known the family for nearly twenty years. They seemed to be happy and all their children have graduated from the University. When Suzie rang me at 2 A.M I initially hesitated, and advised that I could talk to Martin after work the following day. My heart stopped when she warned with a shaky voice, “He would be gone by then.”
“Gone! What do you mean, ‘gone’?” I asked, thinking that they were going to split up. But would they split a thirty-year marriage? “He’s planned to do it. And I know, for sure, he will do it.” She sobbed.

“Can I have a word with him?” I asked, still thinking it was something to do with their marriage.

“He won’t talk to anyone. He’s been talking about hanging for the past few days. He’s got another letter. He says he can’t cope any more.” She replied, still sobbing.

“O.K. I’ll be on my way. Keep talking to him. Right?”

Martin had locked himself in their study. Suzie reported that he had not eaten or drunk all day. I cautiously knocked at the door and was glad that he had unlocked the door. The study was nothing but a tip with envelopes opened and unopened, papers rumpled and squeezed, littering everywhere. Unlike Dr Braver’s study with elegantly arranged books, papers and magazines, you would think Martin’s study was a public tip. He just kept to himself, refusing to talk. He sat on the floor in the midst of the heaps of papers, with his head in his hands, looking tired and disheveled. I stood at the door, trying to figure out how to deal with the threat to commit suicide. I needed to talk him out of it and find out how I could help. I was a trusted friend of the family. After all, that was why Suzie had called me. To talk to my friend.

“I’m completely fed up.” He finally broke the silence, and after shaking his head, added, “My life is in a mess. Real mess.”

Relieved that he had acknowledged my presence and had opened up, I walked cautiously and sat on the floor beside him. “Can we talk?” I asked, as I gently placed my hand on his shoulder.

Martin told me that he had been battling with financial problems for sometime. He was fed up with letters coming through his door everyday. He didn’t know how things had got that far despite the fact that he was a good man and a hard working person. He looked up briefly, shook his head and buried it again between his thighs. As far as he was concerned, he had tried “everything.” His life was in a mess and there was nothing left.

After an initial reluctance, Martin agreed to listen to me and for us to work together to see how we could solve the problems. I advised him that he must first clear his clutter. He didn’t quite get that. I repeated, “Martin, you must first clear your clutter.” I advised that he could not solve his problems by ignoring them. Problems cannot solve themselves. For a start, he must open all the letters, file whatever needed to be filed and bin anything else. He needed to contact his creditors and negotiate with them. He could not continue to ignore his bills. After a long talk, my friend promised me that he would take positive steps to address his debt problems.

I visited Martin two weeks later. He proudly took me to his study, and with a smile on his face, he said, “Thank you.” Martin had taken the bold step to contact his creditors and had decided to act and never ignore his problems.

Situations like Martin’s are very common. People allow problems to mount due to inactivity and procrastination. I have learnt from experience that problems don’t sole themselves. They need someone to solve them. A big problem breeds smaller ones, and if you provide the fertile ground, they would flourish and overwhelm you. My advice is: You’ve got to clear your clutter and start to take action. Try this and you avoid being in the same state as Martin was.

Bullies Are Wimps

imageBullies are wimps

I recently watched the video of a four-year old boy whose family’s cat rescued from being savaged by a dog. The little boy was riding his bike in front of their house when the unprovoked dog attacked him. The surveillance video showed the dog biting and attempting to drag the boy down the sidewalk. The cat saw the incident on their surveillance video in the living room. Within seconds, the cat leaped out of the house, jumped in front of the dog and chased it away.

The hero cat was not up to a quarter of the dog in size. In fact, based on size alone, the dog could quite easily throw its weight on it and crush it to death. And, of course, it could snap its neck between its powerful jaws. But the monstrous dog was gripped with fear. It couldn’t even bark. Instead, it ran as fast as it could.

One could analyse this event in several plausible ways. Could it be that the dog thought other members of the family were after it? Could it be a sense of guilt and it had to run away to save its face. Perhaps the dog was not as strong as it looked. I concur with the last plausible explanation as I believe the dog simply behaved in a typical way.

Typical way? Yes, I say, “Typical way.” This is typical of bullies. They shout and create fear. Look at gang leaders, for example. They often don’t carry weapons but are surrounded by tougher gang members. He controls them by shouting and intimidating them even though they are stronger than him.

The truth is, BULLIES ARE WIMPS. He may be larger than a mountain gorilla. That doesn’t mean he is strong. After all, the adder may be small but no one dares to step on its tail. The needle may be small but it’s not for the cock to swallow. Dr Chuks should have realised this the first time he met Dr Braver. See what happened when Dr Braver’s son had acute appendicitis and they suggested to him that Dr Bigfellow should do Oliver’s appendicectomy. He melted like a scoop of ice cream in the Sahara Desert. “Oh no. Not him,” Dr Braver replied, like a little child who has met his phobia. “My God. Look at those big hands! Those hands are too big to perform an appendicectomy on a tiny creature like Oliver. Gosh! He will slash him from chin to shin.”

There are bullies everywhere. And there are life situations that act as bullies as well. You may have a boss who is so intimidating that you can’t even find the courage to ask for a pay rise. May be you have been diagnosed with cancer or other serious medical conditions. Or you have a phobia that is robbing you of your quality of life. Don’t allow bullies to put you down. Stand up to them and you will discover the truth – they are not as tough as they look. They are wimps!

If you want to read more about the life of a wimp, CLICK

I Can’t Pronounce This

imageI Can’t Pronounce This

I don’t like visiting doctors. Not that I don’t like the medical profession. Of course, my own doctor is excellent in every way. She is caring and trustworthy. But maybe it’s just because I am a man. Men don’t like to complain about their health and so tend to delay going to see their doctors. Women, on the other hand, generally seek help early.

As expected, the waiting room was packed full with women and elderly people. I quietly went in, avoiding any eye contact and settled in one of the chairs at the far end of the room, hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay long before they called me in for my health check.

As I sat down, one nurse came to the door with a piece of paper in her hand. She looked at the paper and murmured something. All the people in the room turned their faces to my side. I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt uncomfortable, and almost asked the receptionist if there was something that I was supposed to do that I hadn’t done. I brought out my phone and started playing one of my favourite games. I just needed something to take my attention.

The nurse appeared again through the door. After clearing her throat, she scratched her head and murmured something again. This time I thought I heard, “Mr O … I can’t pronounce this.” She went back in as the people in the waiting room turned their faces to my side. Then the old woman who sat next to me, asked, “Is that you?” Not knowing what she meant, I replied, “Sorry?”

“Oh, I thought the nurse was calling you.” The old woman said.

“I didn’t hear her call my name.”

“I think she is finding it difficult to call your name.

I didn’t want to be rude to this woman. But I couldn’t help asking her, “How did you know that she can’t pronounce my name?”

“We don’t hear many names like that here.” She replied.

“Oh, I see.” I said.

Just then, the nurse appeared at the door, and after looking at the piece of paper in her hand, walked towards me. I pretended to be busy playing my game and avoided her eye contact.

“Mr, em, I can’t pronounce your name. You’re next.” She said, as she tapped my shoulder.

I looked up. Of course, my name is not “Mr I can’t pronounce your name.” Trying not to be rude to the nurse or create a scene, I politely informed her, “The name is Olusegun Popoola. All the alphabets are English, my dear.”

“Oh!” She said, but she never tried to master the pronunciation of my name.

As I followed this nurse into her room for my health check, I wondered how Dr Chukwuemeka Azuibike would have felt when Dr Braver asked him what his name meant in English.

If you want to make someone welcomed, call his name and if you can say a word or two in their language, the better. Try this and your client will not feel alienated.

If you want to befriend a people, learn to speak their language, call them by their names, respect their beliefs and values, understand and respect their differences and they will in return bestow their trust on you.

imageStick out your neck

The tortoise can quite rightly be described as an ugly animal. But there are many things about it that I admire. With a lifespan of 150-200 years, it is one of the longest living vertebrae, and certainly lives longer than humans. It is cunning, shrewd and a bit like Dr Braver.

There are so many African tales about the tortoise. One of the tales is about why the tortoise has no hair on its head. It is said, one day, the tortoise visited his in-laws. His mother in-law prepared a delicious meal consisting of yam pottage. The tortoise enjoyed the meal but instead of asking his in-law to give him some of it to take home, he decided to pilfer. He and his wife had got ready to leave but he told her he needed to use the loo before setting off. Whilst they were all waiting for him in front of the house, he sneaked to the kitchen, filled his hat with the hot pottage and put his pottage-filled hat back on his head. He returned to join his family and they set off on their return journey. As they were going, he could not bear the pain on his head. He had to confess to his wife what he had done. He took off his hat but it was too late, as the heat from the hot pottage had badly burnt his scalp leaving no single hair on his head. Since that day, the tortoise has remained bald.

What I really like about the tortoise is that it has to stick out its neck in order to move. Whenever I watch this reptile as it goes about its daily needs, it makes me aware of our life as humans. Life throws so many obstacles and challenges at us. The tortoise sometimes hides within its shell for protection. Like the tortoise, there are times when we have to retreat to do some thinking. We may even sometimes hide away from danger.

There will be times in your life when you will have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges but instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go and face them. Stand up to your challenges. That was exactly what Dr Chuks did to survive the almighty Dr Braver.


dbfrontThe Dog And Its Master

 Dr Braver pulled into his drive as the large gate flung open. He whistled sonorously as the gate slowly closed behind him. It was already dark.

“Darling I’m home,” he announced, as he slammed the door of his black Buick.

Jezzie turned her back on the window, ignoring her husband. Dr Braver tiptoed towards the window and tapped gently. Jezzie turned momentarily and simply nodded as she carried on with her telephone conversation.

Lionheart pushed itself through the ajar kitchen door and wagged its tail enthusiastically as Dr Braver stroked the well groomed back of the 6-stone boxer dog passionately. At that moment, the dog and its master seemed to be in their own world, completely detached from everyone. Dr Braver knelt down and gazed affectionately into the sparkling eyes of his companion and muttered sarcastically, “At least someone knows that I am someone.”

A few minutes later, the moment began to fade between the two outcasts. Dr Braver, now allowed his gaze to fall through the window.  His wife, still on the phone, was gesticulating madly but Dr Braver couldn’t tell from these actions how far the conversation had progressed. The barrier between husband and wife resulted in an unnatural silence on both sides.

Jezzie glanced out of the window, seemingly bored of the phone conversation, looking for an escape route. However, the couple’s eyes met unexpectedly and were locked in a cold embrace where each saw deep into each other’s soul.

Suddenly, Jezzie rolled her eyeballs through the slits between the thick layers of the variegated eye shadow. And with a swift flick of her hair, her head was turned away from the window again.

Dr Braver knew that trouble was waiting for him inside.

Nonchalantly, he strolled through the now fully open front door and closed it gently behind him. At that moment Jezzie said, as she hung up the phone, “l’ll talk to you later.”

Jezzie replaced the phone and braced herself up as she stood facing her husband. Her eyes were now almost tearing her eyelids apart with lancinating ferocity. Husband and wife were now watching each other, like tiger and lion, both capable of inflicting terrible wounds on each other and yet, neither would challenge the other.


The Heartsink Patient

dbfrontThe Heartsink Patient

As I sat in my consulting room waiting for the nurse to fetch notes from Dr Braver’s room, I heard a light tap on my door but no one entered when I said, “Come in.” I walked to the door and as I opened, the auxiliary nurse had been struggling to open the door with one hand whilst the other hand supported the huge sets of notes to her chest. I helped her with the door as I wondered why, after a long period when I virtually did nothing, I now had to see so many patients within the remaining period and the clinic would be ending shortly.

Dr Braver has had to leave. I think it might be his wife that phoned him as he seemed to be in a hurry when he left. You know what he’s like when Mrs Braver phones. Sounded like he was taking her to the hair dresser.”

“So, he wants me to see all of these this morning? Tough.”

“Yes. He said you should make sure you see all the patients and phone him with every case that you saw.” The auxiliary nurse said, as she carefully placed the notes on the floor close to my desk.

“This must be a joke!” I exclaimed, “Never mind. Hopefully he would return to the clinic.”

“I doubt very much.” She said, as she prepared to call the first of the patients into my consulting room.

My heart sank as the auxiliary nurse ushered in the patient. I had seen her before and I felt like telling her to rebook on another day to see the boss himself. She was a patient that never smiled. She looked thinner than she did the last time that I saw her and the look on her face today was that of the devil just woken. But that wasn’t the reason why my heart sank. The first time I saw her was on the ward when she was admitted for investigation of her abdominal pain. Dr Braver had recommended an exploratory laparotomy to her. But she declined. That did not surprise me after reading her case history. The first operation that she had was laparoscopic appendicectomy, the removal of the appendix through the keyhole method. Prior to having the operation, she had been complaining of pain in the lower part of her tummy. Dr Braver told her that she had a grumbling appendix and that her pain would settle after he had removed the appendix. She suffered an injury to her large bowel which resulted in having a colostomy. On her insistence, Dr Braver took her back to theatre to rejoin the bowels after three weeks. The joined bowels broke down and Dr Braver yet again took her back to theatre to have the colostomy restored. The restored stoma broke down and she had to undergo further surgery. After four weeks Dr Braver had planned to close her colostomy but she developed a deep vein thrombosis. Now her legs were permanently swollen. She was still complaining of abdominal pain. She was as thin as bone and smoked like a chimney.

“Oh he is not here today!” she said, as she settled down in the chair in front of me.

“Im sorry, Dr Braver has had to go to attend to an emergency,” I said, seeing the disappointment on her face. Normally, patient like her would be seen by the consultant as they usually were too complex for the junior doctor and were not satisfied.

“How come no one had told me?” She shouted. And after coughing several times, her chest still rattling, she said, “And I have sat down there for two hours waiting to see the consultant!”

“I am sorry.” I said, with empathy.

I didn’t know what else to say. She was right. Someone should have told her she was not going to see Dr Braver. At least, it would have been up to her to decide if she would like to see me. It made me wonder how many patients waiting out there were hoping to see the consultant.

“Not your fault, I guess,” she said, as she stared uncomfortably into my eyes.

“So how can I help you today?” I asked, unsure of her reason for her attendance. According to Dr Braver’s last letter to her GP, he had discharged her from his clinic. But she was now back and I could not find her new referral letter. It was probably in Dr Braver’s folder. He usually kept such letters in a special folder.

“You can’t help me. Look at the mess he had made on my tummy.” She got up and lifted her shirt to show me several scars on her abdomen.

“I see.” I said.

But I didn’t think that was the reason she had come back to see him. I waited expectantly to hear what more she was going to say.

“My pain has got worse. It’s tummy pain day in day out. I can’t eat. Look at me. I am now a walking skeleton.” She said, tears streaming out of her deep orbits.

“You said you can’t eat. What happens when you try to eat?” I asked.

“I have a good appetite but I daren’t put anything in my mouth.” She replied.

“Why?” I asked and screwed my eye.

“You are asking me, why? Have you not been listening. Or are you too telling me I am mad?” She shouted.

“Who said you were mad?” I asked softly.

Him. The God himself. Luckily he is not here today. I would have shown him that I am truly a mad woman.”

“That sounds serious.” I cleared my throat and paused to regain my composure. “What about if I  asked you to tell me more about how eating affects your stomach pain?”

She coughed again and almost choked as she replied, “When the food gets to my stomach I start with severe pain and this can go on for several hours. I am sweaty and feeling faint. The pain is so severe. It’s murder. I just can’t face food any more. Sometimes I thought it was better to die than live like this, because this is no life.”

After further questioning, I suspected that this woman had Mesenteric angina caused by some narrowing in the arteries of the bowels. This condition is common in long term heavy cigarette smokers. Patients with this condition have severe pain in their abdomen after eating. This is because, after eating, there is not enough blood flow to the bowels due to the narrowing of the arteries. I told her to lie down on the examination couch. And when I placed the bell of my stethoscope on the top part of her abdomen, I heard a loud bruit. I became more convinced of my diagnosis, but still needed to confirm it.

I wasn’t sure if that was the problem with this woman. But I thought it would be prudent to rule it out. Nevertheless, I was careful not to raise her hope, knowing that Dr Braver could disagree with me, particularly, since that would make him feel less knowledgeable should that be the diagnosis. And of course, he could override my decision.

“So, what are you going to do?” She asked, now almost pleading.

“I am just thinking. I’m not sure. I just wondered if we should rule out a condition that can sometimes cause this kind of pain. But that would mean having to undergo further tests.”

“I don’t care what tests you do as long as you find out what the problem is. Nothing can be worse than the pain I have been having.” Her face became less narrow, showing a glimpse of hope.

“Okay then. I just need to nip to the X-ray department to chat with the radiologist.” I said.

The woman needed to have a special scan to diagnose the problem. I had to do this before Dr Braver got to know. I knew I was taking a risk. If the scan turned out to be negative it would be real trouble. But if the diagnosis was confirmed it would be a relief for everyone although he would still criticise me for taking the liberty to organise an MRI scan without first discussing with him.

In the twinkle of an eye I had arrived in the X-ray department. I was glad that Dr Grayson was the duty radiologist. Unlike his colleagues, he was approachable and knew a great deal of clinical medicine. Having initially trained as a surgeon before becoming a radiologist, he was always very helpful when surgeons needed radiological input. Dr Grayson agreed with my suspicion. Fortunately, there was a cancellation and he was willing to perform the procedure that afternoon if the patient was prepared.

I raced back to the OPD, relieved that I was able to organise an MRI Angiogram within a few minutes, something that would normally take several weeks to arrange.

“You will be having your scan this afternoon madam.” I said, with a beam of smile.

“Oh thank you, doctor. Thank you. You are God sent.” She jumped up. Suddenly, her strength returned from nowhere. And for the first time after many months, she smiled as she hoped to see a way out of her predicament.

“I am not promising. And I’m not even sure if we will find anything. But I believe it’s worth a try.”

“As I said, I will try anything.” She said.

“Now, you better go and get yourself ready before Dr Grayson changes his mind.”

“Thank you again, Doctor.” She said, as she shut the door behind her.

Just before I called the next patient, there was a tap on the door. I thought the woman had come back to decline the MRI scan.

“What have you done to that woman?” Sister Bamforth asked, as she pushed through the door.

“Which woman?” I puzzled.

“The patient that you’ve sent to the X-ray department. She was singing your praises as the nurse took her to the department.”

“Oh God. I hope I have not raised her hope too highly.”

“I don’t think it mattered to her. And I don’t think anyone can stop her either.” She said.

“Oh well, I wish her good luck.” I said, trying to stop the discussion going further. I really didn’t have time for further gossips.

“You know the problem you have now got, doctor?”

“What?” I asked.

“The patients are now changing their mind. Many of them were trying to rebook their appointment. But they are now waiting to see you. That means, a long clinic.” She replied.

“I’m sure we’ll be fine.” I tried to draw the discussion to an end.

“Sure.” She said, as she swiftly walked out of the room.