Bury my heart at twisted knee


A strange thing happened the other day. I had an unbearable pain in my left knee. It was so painful that this normally chemical-shy bloke was forced to take painkillers to try to get a decent night’s sleep. And when it carried on to the next day, I had to arrange a visit to the local surgery.

For those of you who aren’t of a blokish disposition, I ought to explain the problem with this. Blokes don’t like to make a fuss. We don’t like to go to the hospital until and unless we have a limb that has been nearly torn off and is only hanging on with a few threads of sinew. And even then we half hope that it will come right by itself overnight. Or if we have a stiff bath. Or an even stiffer whisky.

We certainly don’t want to take medicines. Or admit that we might need help. That would be tantamount to asking someone for directions. We would have to admit that we couldn’t cope. That we needed someone to help us.

And that reminded me of a phrase that my Mum sometimes uses. She will talk about someone being “under the doctor”. Maybe it’s a North of England thing.

And I have to say that “under the doctor” gives me an unusual mental image. The doctor climbs on top of you? How does that work, exactly?

I am trying very hard not to form a Carry on Doctor smutty image here. And failing. I suppose that’s one way of paying for the National Health Service. Oooh, Matron!

Maybe the doctor walks over your back like one of those oriental masseuses?

I recently spoke to a friend about medical issues, and she said that she was “under the hospital”. And that gave me a different image altogether. I couldn’t work out whether the hospital had an underground ward. Or maybe it was where the mob buried its victims when no-one was building motorways.

And that reminded me of another of my Mum’s sayings: “I went to the doctor with my leg.”  But of course you did. It’s not a good idea to leave it behind.

The ultimate I think was something that I once heard a Grandma-in-law say – “I’ve been under the doctor with my chest.”

So there I was earlier today. Under the doctor. With my knee. Naturally, TV repairman syndrome kicks in. In the five days between making the appointment and seeing the doctor, my knee more or less heals itself. That means that I have to suffer the indignity of taking my trousers off in front of another man, and then having that other man fondle my leg. And throughout it all I have no pain to report.

I am letting another man touch my nether parts in response to a pain that I haven’t got any more.

It’s probably just a touch of gout, he says. We’ll do some blood test to be sure. And a cholesterol count. And you could do with losing some weight. Okay, a lot of weight. But at least my blood pressure was good. Whatever that means.

I couldn’t help noticing a sign on the wall. “If you would like to be seen by a female doctor, please tell reception.”

Now there’s a funny thought. Tempting …

So, yes. When I next phone my Mum I will be able to tell her that I have been under the doctor with my knee.


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