No other medicine but only hopeBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7339.713 (Published 23 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:713
- Simon Stephenson, medical house officer
- Western Infirmary, Glasgow
On a busy surgical receiving day my last patient is an elderly gentleman. As I approach, I see he is reading the Bible, and my heart sinks somewhat. Already that day I have listened, unprovoked, to a rude limerick, an election manifesto, and a rendition of Yesterday. I have no wish to add a sermon to this list. I introduce myself and apologise he has been kept waiting.
He smiles, “Kept myself occupied,” and motions to the book.
“The good book,” I mumble.
“Several good books,” He corrects me. “The complete works.” He shows me the spine of his black leather book. The word Shakespeare is embossed in gold leaf.
“Which one are you reading? My favourite is…”
Before I can finish, he replies, “Measure for Measure,” and, of the entire canon, names the obscure play I was about …