From The Doctors Mission.
“I WAS called to visit and elderly unmarried lady who lived together with her sister. She complained about severe pain in the abdomen. I examined her conscientiously and found no cause for her complaint. Again, to my great sorrow, I could make no exact scientific diagnosis. The only thing I could ascertain was that nothing was ascertainable to account for the pain.
I tried various remedies, dieting, hot and cold compresses, tincture of opium, etc. Nothing did any good. In this way three days were spent and the patient continued complaining bitterly. Her sister, greatly worried, pointedly asked me-I was at the time 23 years old-to call in an experienced colleague of more mature years.
“In a little town, four miles distant, there were two doctors who had been practising there for a long time. I telephoned to one of them and in due course there appeared a short, stout, jovial-looking man who, to judge by his appearance, was a disciple of Bacchus. We went to the patients house. The doctor examined the patient carefully and then we withdrew to a private room.
I eagerly awaited his diagnosis. I expected him to solve the mystery of the case. I imagined that immediately he would tell me the cause of the trouble. However, things were very different. He began by asking: So, you have studied and made your examination in the town of R. Tell me something about old Professor So-and-so. How is he doing?” I feel from the clouds into reality. During ten minutes we discussed everything except
the patients condition. then the consultant began to talk at length about the fee which the patient could, might or ought to pay, and at last I asked impatiently: Well doctor, what is the matter with he? His reply was: I have not the slightest notion. What have you given her? I answered tincture of opium, upon which he said: Well, if you have no objection, I shall prescribe her the same opium in the form of powders..
“This was the end of my first consultation. Since then I have had many consultations with colleagues, but I cannot say that all of them were exactly like the first one. Besides, I have nothing to say against the country doctor whom I met for the first time. He was an excellent fellow, a great original and much liked as a physician. We doctors are human beings with human faults and imperfections.
“Unfortunately the opium powders proved as ineffective as the opium tincture. I became worried. At last the patient refused practically all food. Her sister noticed that her strength was rapidly ebbing. At last it occurred to me that one might try to feed her by the bowel. Late at night i went to the house and ordered that the lady should be given an enema consisting of 6 ozs. of milk, a teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of sugar and a raw egg. Next morning my first visit was to this desperate case.
When i entered the door, the sister nearly fell round my neck, beaming with joy. Full of gratitude, she exclaimed: My dear doctor, can we ever thank you enough. You have saved my sisters life. But how? What has happened? Well, after the enema, my sister had several gigantic motions and now she is perfectly well. Indeed she was perfectly well and she remained well.
“And what is the moral of the story? In a case of constipation the best remedy is an enema, even if it is a scientifically compounded nutritive enema.
“Only later on I learned the following great verity: Only too often doctors receive from patients the warmest gratitude in case in which they have either done nothing or in which they have made acute by a fluke. That is a certain compensation for the numerous cases in which our labours, our anxiety and sleepless nights are repaid with black ingratitude.