Saturday, 23 April 2011

Abdul Halim Hafez Died Because He Liked Swimming With Bare Feet.

Bilharzia.

Only in Egypt (and some parts of Japan) does that word mean something. Now just in case I'm getting readers from countries that don't include the word pharoah in their day to day vocabulary, let me break it down for you.

Bilharzia is a disease that's caused by a parasite known as Schistosoma. These funky critters live in the Nile and penetrate your body through your feet and legs soon as you dip into the water. It used to be so endemic in Egypt that giving a history of being a farmer meant you had Bilharzia. The disease is called Schistosomiases abroad but it's called Bilharzia here after the great Theodore Bilharz, who dedicated all his time here in Egypt to learn more about the parasite. Rumor has it he was terrified of the Nile so much that he barely used to take any showers when he lived here. The funny part to that story is that he still died here, not from bilharzia but from typhus ( which commonly comes from fleas or rats) Just goes to show that if Egypt wants to kill you, it will.

Anyways this was during a clinical exam I had 2 years ago. We had to examine the patient and come up with a diagnosis. My patient was a middle aged woman who had an obvious hernia. We talked about her hernia so I asked about her past history:
"So any other diseases you might have?"
"Oh no. It's just the hernia."
"So no diabetes or hypertension?"
"Oh God no, I'm healthy as a fiddle."
"That's great."
"Oh, I have Bilharzia though. Is that relevant?"
".................................yes it's relevant. Why didn't you tell me about this?"
"Everyone over where I'm from has it. So I figured it's okay to have. I mean it's not going to kill me or anything like that."
"Um. Are you familiar with Abdul Halim Hafez?"
"Oh my God. I love him!"
"He died from Bilharzia."
"What?! You're saying this is a dangerous disease?"
"It eventually kills your liver. Yes goddamnit it's a dangerous disease. Why didn't you take the medication?"
"Back then they were shots and I was scared of shots."
"So you decided, fuck it? Screw my kids, screw my life, I don't want to take shots so I'm going to die?"
"Well I didn't know Abdul Halim died from it. Maybe if I did, I would have taken the shots."
"...........Okay. here's what you're going to do because you're making me very angry now. You're going to take this medicine, orally, just the one time. Then go check your liver to make sure there isn't any permanent damage."
"How big is the pill Doc? Because I can't swallow big pills."

This is when I lost it. I started shouting at her. I may have told her that her kids are going to be orphans as well. I don't remember. I tend to lose focus and memory when i'm fucking enraged. Anyways, that was that and I shifted to the balcony to wait for the professor to discuss my case. That's when the strangest thing happened.

She came in to the balcony and she looked at all the other doctors and said,
"All of you are going to be bad doctors, because you don't ever want to be honest with the patient."
She then pointed at me and said,
"This man here, he cared so much that he got angry at me. I hope all of you learn from him and start caring for your patients more."
She then hugged me and told me to never stop caring.




Bitch...Was...Crazy.

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