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A medical memoir

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 03 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1076
  1. Gordon Graham, retired publisher
  1. Marlow

    My first encounter with a doctor was when I was two years old. I remember being propped up on the kitchen worktop while he examined (with cold fingers) my private parts. He, or my parents, had decided that I should be circumcised. They did not consult me. I cried.

    Throughout my childhood, in the 1920s and 1930s, I had a series of the customary childhood illnesses. My parents became Christian Scientists in 1925 and so, when I fell ill, I was tucked into bed, given warm milk, tender loving care, prayer, and spiritual treatment. There was no medicine in the house. It was a loving, if somewhat Spartan, upbringing.

    Schooled in the belief that spiritual healing was natural, I tended to take injuries rather casually. Once, in my teens, I fell off a rock face when I was climbing alone and gashed my leg to the bone. I cycled 30 miles home with a handkerchief over it. When I got home, a fresh handkerchief was substituted.

    This period of illness has …

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