(Disclaimer: this series of stories is completely fictional and none of the persons, places or institutions in these stories are real, but figments of my own imagination. Any similarity to any real person, place or institution is entirely coincidental.)
Dave had had a particularly wearying eighteen months since his accident; his foot had been crushed and dislocated simultaneously as he was thrown over the handlebars of his motorcycle after a female driver had driven out of a side-street to make a left turn right in front of him; he’d seen her approaching the junction and, as she had looked right at him, Dave had of course assumed that she was going to stop and give way as the law demanded in such a situation. She hadn’t, however, and the result had been just about every bone in Dave’s left foot being shattered. After eighteen months he’d returned for his check-up, expecting to be told he would soon have bone fusion surgery and that this would lessen some of the pain he still felt in the leg, even though he’d begun to walk on it some time ago.
“I remember you…” the doctor said, frowning heavily under his thick-rimmed glasses
“I remember you too!” Dave said. This doctor had seem him once before and had demonstrated such a judgemental attitude towards Dave and his injury that Dave suspected him of working for the insurance company which was dealing with his claim for compensation. At the very least, thought Dave, this guy has the bedside manner of a house-brick; in fact he was sure he’d known friendlier and more compassionate house-bricks.
The doctor made Dave take off his shoes and socks and, after looking at the X-rays Dave had just had done, took the latter’s left foot in his hands; taking one end of his foot in one hand and the other end in the other hand, the doctor then suddenly twisted both ends of the foot in opposite directions; “Aaargh!” Dave yelled instantly as he felt something go ‘click’ painfully in his left foot. Another wrench of the foot upwards towards the kneecap brought another yell of pain from the patient, who was beginning to wonder what he’d ever done to the doctor to deserve such treatment.
“That’s bad…” the doctor was saying, “Your ankle is still very stiff; and the x-rays show that your bones have all decalcified; your foot now has osteoporosis as a result of protracted disuse; there’s too little calcium in your bones for the bone fusion surgery to work, so you’ll need to walk on it as much as you can for the next six months… Then come back and we’ll see if there’s enough calcium in it for the bone fusion operation… The good news is that if you walk on it enough for the next six months you may not need the bone fusion…”
Dave had patiently ignored the violent urges he felt towards this doctor and even more patiently made another appointment for six months later; it had been six months since his last appointment; one thing Dave was sure of was that he was not suffering from ‘over-servicing’. He made a mental note of his determination that if he had to see the same doctor on his next visit, that he would ask for another doctor; he had been assured that none of the hospital’s doctors ‘worked for the insurance companies’, but who, he asked himself, could one possibly believe in this wonderful 21st century? And this quack seems downright hostile!
His determination was redoubled when a visit to his own GP confirmed a suspected fractured fourth meta-tarsal; and his GP’s method of examining the foot for flexibility was not only much gentler, but, it seemed to Dave, also produced greater flexibility in the whole foot.
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“Well,” Doctor Frood was saying, “Vat does zis ‘saint’ of yours look like, then…?”
“Well, she’s kinda tall and slim… blonde and speaks with a slightly Scandinavian accent.
“So you actually do see her, then; she’s not just a voice inside your head?”
“Oh yes, Doctor… I see her as plainly as I see you sitting here in front of me!”
“Most unusual…” the psychiatrist said, suddenly standing up and agitatedly starting to pace the room; he stopped in front of the window, staring out of it into space, as he continued, “… few schizophrenia patients actually see visions; the voices remain internal to their heads, but clearly, you understand that this cannot be real? It must be some kind of hallucination! People just don’t appear and disappear like that!”
He turned round only to discover with astonishment that Loreen had somehow disappeared. She couldn’t have left by the normal route; his secretary was trained to try to stop and question anyone who left an interview early and he’d have heard; besides, when he asked her if his patient had left, his secretary had just said, “Patient?” as if she hardly knew what such at thing was. Nervously he reached into his drawer, took out a small pill-bottle and poured himself out a generous handful of ‘little yellow helpers’; then he withdrew a silver flask from a hip pocket and washed his pills down with a good strong slug of brandy…
It wasn’t possible, was it? That he could be imagining patients? Patients who talked about seeing saints? Was this, he began to wonder, some kind of guilt manifestation from his own rejection of religion at an early age? Perhaps, he thought, I need to see a psychiatrist!
***** ******** *****