Placebo without placebo

Medicine is a brutal science. I have learnt this in the last one and a half years that I have been in clinical years of medical school. Whereas most procedures are done to save the lives of patients, most of them are very invasive. Think of surgery for example, the surgeon gets to explore the parts of the body that even the owner doesn’t know or think about consciously.

If you ask me, I wouldn’t want to be done to the things we do to patients to save their lives. To start with, I fear injections, the thing is just so painful as it sinks in the body. If you get a nurse who doesn’t give a fuck about pain, man, you are doomed. What about the urinary catheter? Oh my! the pain and the discomfort, i don’t even want to think of it.

Somewhere last year I woke up with an awful feeling at two o’clock in the morning, just an hour to the time I normally wake up. I was sweating, nauseated and throwing up like never before. I was all alone in my room, my neighbor was not around, even if he was, I can count the number of times we talked. He was generally a reserved man, always silent. A board made of ply wood separated us. Most of the time, silence reigned supreme. My roommate was a gentle man, something that drew ladies close to him. He had quite a number of them as friends. In my entire stay with him, I never heard his bed shake, squeak or make sounds to that effect. If it ever did, perhaps in my absence.

I went to the student clinic in my campus later that day. The doctor was a female. I was not in the mood of physical examination and giving too much history, I just wanted medication and leave. Actually if it were not for the fact that the school provides the drugs for free, I would have got the drugs from a local store and sorted the situation. The doctor insisted that she had to examine me, so I removed my shirt and lied on the examination table. While she was palpating my abdomen, my stomach rumbled loudly in protest that I felt embarrassed. I felt like asking my stomach, “Hey you, why now? couldn’t you wait till I got out of the clinic?”

I was later sent to the lab for a series of tests including those that I could have never thought of. I wondered what the tests were for. since I was sick, I decided to comply. A blood sample was drawn with ease from my right antecubital vein. I did not even want to look at the needle going in, though it was not as painful as those injections of the buttocks. I was given a stool container to go get stool samples for even more investigations. I insisted that I had to get the results of the blood tests to rule out those weird differentials. I was relieved when the results came out negative.

I took the stool bottle with me to the loo, to get my shit for lab works. When I got into the loo, I found a head staring at me from the space above the toilet door and the roof. No human being can reach that height that he was staring at me from, so it did not take me long to figure out that the guy was standing on the toilet bowl. I just caught him off guard. You know campus toilets can be so dirty, so i guess he was protecting his ass from the dirty water that splashes after shit drops into the bowl. The guy never seemed disturbed, he jumped from the bowl and left as if nothing had happened. He did not give a f***.

I left the loo and never took the stool bottle back to the laboratory. I did even put my shit there to begin with. I decided that if the symptoms persisted, I would treat what the doctor was thinking, after all the weird blood tests were all negative. I left the lab. I have never gone back there again neither have I had any bout of diarrhea. This is what we call placebo without placebo.



Author: Dr. Kiaye Oliver

I am a dreamer. I love medicine. She is generous. I am also in love with literature, she makes me see the world the way I want to and sometimes the way it is.

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