I thought, some of the chapters from my book are medical. So I am reblogging them. It gives you a bit of a flavour what my literary writing is like. So here is one of them. It comes after another chapter, a chapter about my red dress (here if you want to read that one, too http://www.lucienovak.com/#!Red-Dress-chapter-from-the-middle-of-my-book/c1pbq/E36E7A7E-7567-45D7-8622-666302667E9D):
The Red Dress and the Wing Commander
I do not wear the red dress just for my lovers.
I love some of my old English patients. Take Mr Thompson. A 94 year old man, housebound, trailing his domiciliary oxygen tubes behind him when he opens the door for me. A lifelong smoking effect. His lungs are knackered. He always has to huff and puff for three long minutes before he can reply to my, “Hello.” I wait. I sit down, looking at the photographs on the wall of his sitting room.
The black and white photos of his beautiful wife with carefully coiffed curls, the wife who waited for him patiently only to die of cancer ten years after the war. His daughter and grandchildren. A photo of him in the RAF uniform, a dashing face, as if he was a Hollywood actor playing Mr Thompson’s role. I often wondered how beautiful Hollywood actresses feel when they see their films 30 years later and compare now and then, looking at their wrinkled faces in the mirror. I wonder if Mr Thompson is comparing his wizened body, bald head, shaking hands full of age spots and pale eyes to this photograph of a handsome young officer. I doubt he thinks about it.
My relationship with Mr Thompson started badly. He disagreed with everything I said, did not want me to change his inhalers, didn’t want me to give him his pneumonia jab, and when I suggested he gets some carers to help him in his house, he got offended. He thought I was just yet another woman making too much fuss. He still occasionally asked for a home visit, usually when he had one of his frequent chest infections or his joints seized up. I came and gave him an antibiotic, or injected his arthritic shoulder or knee with a steroid injection. He was unbelievably grumpy. I told him that smoking around oxygen cylinders is dangerous – he could blow his house up. “I have dealt with explosives before you were in your mother’s womb,” he said.
But then, the situation changed. I looked at him, and said, “Mr Thompson, you are such a pain in the neck sometimes!” I winked to show him I was kidding, but I wasn’t, not really. He smiled.
“That is what my wife used to say.” That was the first day he offered me a cup of tea.
After that, we became friends. I would visit him twice a month, accepting tea and biscuits, having a chat. He told me about his war, the boring waiting in the officers’ mess and the exciting but dangerous action.
“It sounds a bit like a job of an anaesthetist,” I said. “Too little excitement most of the time, too much excitement occasionally.” I worked in anaesthetics for a while, I hated it.
One day, I was wearing a long skirt and I tripped over his oxygen tubes. It was as if he was on a long see through leash, the long plastic tubes trailing from the oxygen cylinders in the kitchen all over the apartment. He shuffled around with oxygen plugged in his nostrils. “I often wondered if women wore long skirts because they have horrible legs,” he said.
Well, that was a challenge. When I spoke to my husband Honza, who was in London at that time, he did not see the joke. “That is horrible and rude, he shouldn’t talk to you like that!” Honza seemed morally offended. Coming from him – a married man with a mistress – it was a case of double standards at least. He was not only judging Mr Thompson, he did not like men flirting with me. He got jealous. I thought the new Mr Thompson was fun.
On the next visit, I wore my red dress. It comes about five centimetres above my knees, but that is when I am standing. I sat down. I wondered if he noticed. He did! He smiled, and in his eyes I could glimpse the flirty expression of that irresistibly handsome man from the photo on his wall.
“I must apologise, doc, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your legs.”
“Well, thank you sir,” I said mockingly. We both burst out laughing.
Ever since that day, I dressed carefully whenever I went to visit him. Shortish skirts, and later sometimes even the stockings my lover Tom introduced me to.
We both flirted. I suppose it was inappropriate. But Mr Thompson was not going to report me to the General Medical Council, he was having fun. Later, when I told the story to Tom, he loved it. He said, “When I get old and decrepit, I would love to get a flirty attractive doctor with short skirts and stockings visiting me and spice my boring life up. And you are a good doctor, too, he is lucky.”
I was spicing up Mr Thompson’s life for another two years. He died of pneumonia. The one I wanted to vaccinate him against.
Sometimes I miss Mr Thompson …