Wednesday, October 17

Physician heal thyself

So, once again the Gnome is spending his working days discussing and writing about bowel disease at an international medical conference.

For many physicians of course, conferences are a good excuse to get away from the family to play golf, go shopping, or sleep with attractive young pharmaceutical sales reps.

Others though do actually contribute to our global scientific knowledge by publishing short abstracts on their clinical work. These abstracts are then collated into a very large book (with a very small font) designed specifically so the Gnome can experience both eye strain and headaches from trying to pick out those of genuine scientific interest.

One does occasionally come across an unintentional bit of humour to lighten the mood. An abstract presented here in Philadelphia described patients who took a drug but had a bad reaction to it. The Gnome assumes the author meant to say '10% of patients were were unable to tolerate the treatment', but what was written was '10% of patients were intolerable'.

The Gnome knows lots of doctors, and he bets every single one would say that percentage was way too low...

Fighting tooth and claw

Why do Americans have a thing about British dentistry? Actually the Gnome knows the answer to that and is ashamed to say he generally agrees with their logic. For to be born an Englishman may be, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, 'to win first prize in the lottery of life' but unfortunately little of that windfall is spent on straightening teeth.

Even poor old Prince Charles, who presumably has no need to queue for hours with the masses in the hope of getting into an NHS practice, is known in the US as a man for whom teeth were, are, and forever will be, something used only to chew food. This is not the American way. For here teeth are a status symbol. Each one must be polished, whitened, straightened and capped until capable of taking their rightful place among their equally stylish neighbours.

An American smiling at you can be quite an unnerving experience. One is often drawn to the teeth, their shiny, glowing whiteness reminiscent of Hollywood portrayals of the gates to heaven.

As an aside, why is heaven always assumed to be a place of glowing white light? Has the Almighty no concept of colour? Presumably all interior designers go straight to hell, spending their time with Lucifer discussing how to update the torture chambers with accented use of colours such as Firestorm Red and Sulphorous Yellow...

Sorry. The Gnome is a little tired and his mind can wander under such circumstance. Back to teeth. The Gnome has returned to Philadelphia this week (no cheesesteaks or roadkill yet though...) and met a new client who had just such a smile. His first words were:

'Hey there Gnome, nice to meet you at last. Your teeth are good for an Englishman...'

The Gnome's response was, in his own humble opinion, not a bad one - although potentially damaging to his future work prospects.

'Pleased to meet you too. You're quite slim for an American...'

Fifteen all, new balls please!