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Personal Views

The bottlewasher and the ambassador

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 18 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1650
  1. Sundaram V Ramanan, associate professor of clinical medicine
  1. University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Hartford, CT 06105, USA

    “If he says his hand hurts, put it on his hand; if his head hurts, put it on his head. That's what your father does.”

    I had just completed a year of internship and, with all the knowledge and wisdom of a new graduate, I had joined my father in family practice It seemed strange, returning to the old familiar surroundings in a new garb. From the time I was a toddler I had visited my father in his office, looking in admiration at the huge oak desk behind which he sat. In one corner was a pile of copies of the BMJ and the Lancet, some obviously read, others unopened. There was a profusion of pens and pencils with a jar of royal blue Quink—ball point pens had not yet been invented. By his right hand was a heavy ledger which served as medical record, account book, and anything else worth writing about, all rolled into one tome. Just outside his office, and a little beyond what we would now call a treatment room, was the dispensary. This resembled a pharmacy of old, a large glass fronted cabinet with some bottles containing liquids of varying color and viscosity. Other widemouthed bottles contained crystals, large and small. I was intrigued by the curious names on the labels: Aq Menth Pip Conc, Tr Card Co, Sodii Sal, Extr Thyr Sic, to name some. A few large jars contained ointments such as Antiphlogistine, Whitfield's, and Icthyol c. Belladonna.

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