The art of amusing the patient

A couple of weeks ago, I was seated next to Hilton Hotel’s Frustration Square gazing blankly at newspaper vendors. There’s life at that place. Ranging from teen boys in sagged pants walking like newborn calves to these shaved-eyebrow girlie wannabes who blow air kisses at each other. In the streets, people look normal. They look happy. Behind the mask, some people are struggling in ways you can’t even imagine. One day it could be you. One day you’ll have the strep throat. That’s just a very sore throat.

Up to two weeks ago, disease had rendered me immobile. It started as flu. Or so I thought. I felt like a semi-colon. I didn’t know where I belonged; earth, hell, heaven. You know when you just want out, yes?

I’ve never had a liking for doctors. This’ considering that they live off diseases and a doctor’s reputation is made by the number of eminent men who die under his care. So, a male die hard African Bantu like me decides to hibernate in the house till disease gets bored and leaves. But I’m the one who got bored. I devised ways to circumvent the boredom. I started beheading cockroaches. Ten days on and there was no end in sight as the body count piled up on the window’s base. No end in sight for my disease too. By the way, beheaded cockroaches don’t die that fast. I don’t die that fast too. Ten days later and the twitching of legs had been relentless. That’s for the cockroaches. But that’s for me too, because I couldn’t sleep in bed. Insomnia and lack of appetite were passionately hugging the flu demons.

It’s after some pal suggested nyama choma on the coming weekend that I went to the doc to catalyse recovery. The plan was – get some medication and get well before the weekend so that I’d guiltlessly indulge. A hustling man just can’t bounce a nyama choma invite.  I didn’t even know where the nearest medical care was. Thanks Google, I’m pretty much grateful. I landed in a hole with a bewitching and hypnotic lass. The dainty doc was likely just from college I guess. I nearly played the hench, an African male doesn’t suffer with disease in front of such. I was nearly getting miraculously well when she interrupted;


“Fever, headache, muscle pain and malaise. So bad I haven’t jogged in the morning for two weeks.”

I intentionally wanted her to know I jog because, isn’t that what cool guys do?

I’d never thought I’d get over a doctor. Yet most people’ll get over most things if they put their minds to it, you just have to give them an interest. This one was interesting.

“You most likely have herpes.”

“What? That’s an STD!”

I appreciated her joke. Then she insisted. I answered a flurry of herpes-related questions like; age? in college? you’re a man? last time … … I can’t reveal the rest. No tests.

I told her I couldn’t in any way on this galaxy have herpes (because it’s an STD) to which she unleashed a thorough, wordy, better argument as if she’d eaten a bowl of alphabet soup. The best way to change a woman’s mind is to agree with her. She told me to come (go) back the following day. I didn’t.

Actually, flu-like symptoms normally herald the onset of a herpes outbreak. I googled that later. Nevertheless, I was in fact thrilled by the idea that herpes could be happening in my body. I mean, how could, when I myself feel so uncomfortable in me. I pitied the disease. I rarely fall sick. Once I found a half eaten croissant on the play ground in primary school and I dared my friends to eat it. We split it three ways. Yum! I didn’t fall sick! But that’s not how one gets herpes. Sorry.

A week later, my voice was ‘kaput’ and my throat was breaking up with me. Cancer scare! It was fiery red and sore. I had a frog somewhere in there. My voice was thin and raspy, it even hurt to speak. Those dastardly expanding glands, tonsils, were making me feel weak! Head hurt. Eyes watered. Couldn’t swallow anything. Even ‘Strepsils’. That meant a real good fast. I could only breathe through one nostril while the other made the coolest, interesting ‘tea-pot whistle’ noises. In a couple of days, catapulted by the impeding hunger doom, I was dashing back to the dainty ‘doll’. Sorry, I meant doc.


Apparently yeah, I had the strep throat.

“It’s a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils. The throat gets irritated and inflamed, causing a sudden, severe sore throat. Strep throat is caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. That bacteria causes pneumonia too.”

“Too much science miss. What do we do?”

“We? I’m the doc!”

“It’s teamwork. And I’m a gentleman. I can always help. Let’s treat me.”

We didn’t talk about any herpes. I figured out it had been sham. She’d apparently expected my flu to die out naturally, since that’s how flu rolls (hadn’t expected me to go back). It’s in fact advisable to just self medicate on ‘lemon plus ginger’ froth.

I really prefer the old-fashioned remedy of big black bottles of medicine. Those that you had to carry your own during a clinic’s visit. After all, one can always pour those down the sink. Here, a cute damsel was administering an anti-biotic injection. She even suggested a painkiller injection. Two injections. Two sufferings on top of a wound. Of course, I paid for it in bills too.

Men are dogs. True. However with a sore throat you can’t bark.

You retreat to your corner and sit on your tail.

Then you accept the injection.

Then you get well just after a day.

Then last weekend you enjoyed the ‘nyama choma’ you were invited to!

Quite an interesting recovery process I’ve had. The art of medicine undeniably consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.

6 thoughts on “The art of amusing the patient

  1. Wow!nice piece Joe,i admire your choice of words….especially when you talk of her having swallowed a bowl of alphabet soup….keep on bro…pole,kwa ugonjwa..


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