Plain Tales from the Surgery

A patient requested excision of a sebaceous cyst privately, so he went to The Garden Hospital, known locally as 'The Garden'.

When the patient returned post-op, he declared his delight at having his 'herbaceous cyst' removed. Clearly I had sent him to the right place.

Martin Harris, Temple Fortune, London

Caring for a psychotic in the family, without losing your sense of humour, has to be admired.

I was called to assess a 40-year-old man who had barricaded himself in his flat. He was refusing food and all outside intervention. His mother was concerned because she had had no contact with him for two weeks.

Eventually the police broke the door open.

He sat with no clothes on in front of three candles. I was freezing with my overcoat on.

He told me he was an archangel trying to save the world from disasters.

Without him, recent Asian disasters would have been a lot worse, he said.

The visit was at the time of 12 days of rioting in France, and he declared: 'Now I am working at stopping France from burning.'

I suggested to him that a short stay in the hospital might stop his condition from deteriorating. If France burned, he replied, I would be to blame.

The calm smile on his mother's face throughout was one I will not forget.

Dr Kausar Jafri, Stoke-on-Trent

Reviewing an old case report, I was a little concerned to read:

'The (terminal) patient wished to die at home. The doctors and district nurses went to great lengths to ensure that he did.'

I think I know what was meant.

Dr David Carvel, Biggar, Lanarkshire

A young European woman came to see me. She demanded I sort out her 'heart pain' and refer her to the gynaecologist.

When I asked her what she deemed to be her gynaecological problem, she retorted in disgust: 'Are you saying I need to have a problem before I can see a doctor?'

With an attitude like that, she will have a long wait on the NHS.

Dr Shah Ali, Plaistow, London.

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