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Doctors and patients dance together

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 28 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:723
  1. Arthur Smith, writer and performer.
  1. London

    Doctor and patient sway together in an eternal dance. They need each other, and you cannot describe one without reference to the other. I never had much need for doctors until I was 47, at which point I seemed to have the need for lots of them. Lying in bed in hospital all day I was able to observe them in their natural habitat. I learnt not to worry about staring because doctors do not see you except when it's your turn.

    My favourite place in St George's Hospital in Tooting, London, was the smoking room, not just because I'm a nicotine addict but because this dingy, airless, stinking place was the one corner of my enclosed world that did not feel like an underfunded public school. We inhabitants were rebellious fifth formers, and the smoking room was the haunt where the teachers never came.

    Chief smoker was Ron, who seemed to have every disease I've ever heard of …

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