A large elderly lady eased herself gently into the patient’s chair in my consulting room recently. I listened patiently while she went through the inventory of her complaints.
Sides pain. √
Total body pain. √
“Is there something else?” I asked.
She then had a long conversation with my translator, using a quieter voice. Perhaps this was the real reason for her consultation, the “hidden agenda”.
“The suspense is killing me,” I said. “What’s she saying?”
“She is talking about her anus and a matchstick, doctor,” said the translator.
I had this sudden vision of this elderly lady adopting an undignified posture, lighting her farts with a match. My jaw must have visibly dropped in astonishment.
“Her bottom is itchy and she uses a matchstick to scratch it,” explained the translator.
I had to restrain myself from asking two unprofessional supplementary questions to satisfy my natural curiosity.
Which end of the matchstick was she using to ease the itch?
Was she able to use the same matchstick to light a fire afterwards?
I settled on prescribing a soothing ointment for her to use instead.