Laughter, the missing prescription

Photo credits: Instagram

Disclaimer: The name herein has been changed. I have just used herein in a sentence! Law school- express.

I will never tire of saying how nature is the most unfair referee. She will bet against you, with odds of up to ten. Be damn! Ten f*cking odds, all against you! Tragedy is a frequent visitor to some of us more than others. It is not uncommon to lose your job and child simultaneously. Nature doesn’t give a shit that you wake up every day and pray. She bids carelessly. In dangerous Casinos of the universe. John was on the losing end. Nature 7-0 John, 5 minutes added time.


I would meet John again in ward 4, the male orthopedic ward. He had broken his bones again, barely three months after we had discharged him. In the previous admission, we put a total of 5 implants in an operation that lasted 7 hours. One implant went to the left thigh, another one to the right knee, the remaining three ended up in his right forearm. And by the way, implants are metals used to fix bones.

Orthopedics is a rather chilled rotation. All you need is an X-ray and an implant, then they are good to go. John had none of those at that time. So he was on the long waiting list for theatre later that week. I was rotating in medicine. I had been called by ortho to go and adjust some insulin dose of some old gentleman in the acute room. That is when I met John again. “Daktari, habari gani? Nilivunjika tena kwa accident,” he said smiling warmly. “Pole kwa maumivu,” I felt sorry for him. He was a man loved by misery.

I loved John. He was street smart. I felt like he was my doppelganger, only that he is a full-time street man, and I left the streets at halftime. He is playing not to lose; I am playing to win. He had developed an ingenious way of making money in his last admission. He sold marijuana to the patients he was sharing the ward with. You could see a patient with severe pain go out behind the ward, comes back, laughs a lot, and lulls himself to sleep. Patients in my ward slept like they didn’t have fractured bones. My consultant sometimes checked my treatment sheet to confirm that I was not overdosing patients on painkillers.


The people in his cube were very fond of me, as was I. I remember a day when they all covered their faces with blankets. All of them, including those with significant fractures. When I got to the cube and called out one of them, they all burst out laughing. You know that game that kids play where they cover their heads when an adult sees them. That one. Another laughter emanated from behind the ward. “Hahaha!’ the laughter got louder and louder and louder. John never laughed haha like everyone else. He laughed ‘kithikithi,’ sticking his tongue out, raising his eyebrows, and moving his shoulder up and down quickly. The way you do when you laugh with your friends. He had given a bolus dose of his drug. The secret drug that was not in the treatment sheet.


As John waits to be operated on, I look forward to the happiness he brought into the wards. I long for the laughter that punctuated his stay with us. I miss ortho. There was never a dull day till we discharged him. John, the doctor with the other prescription, reminded me of the simplicity of our existence. It is always the moment that counts. Carpe momentum!

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.

17 thoughts on “Laughter, the missing prescription”

  1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚John has his way of supplementing the prescribed painkillers.He’s generous too. He helps other patients gain quick relief.
    The very nature that gives him laughter should be kind to him.

  2. A flawless narration that brings into light your mastery of the colonial lingua.
    Perfect work of artπŸ‘ŒπŸΏ

  3. Nature forgave John. He is lucky. I remember a patient who had three implants fixed, and later died on the discharge day, probably due to PE. That aside, nature has a way of making us happy. Pot is a good thing, for those who find happiness in it. Pot is great

  4. Your stories are so captivating Doc, thanks to Dr. Samuel Deya who let me know of the nice stuffs I’ve been missing here.

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