Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

An antiepidemiologist

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 18 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3497
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Recently I suffered from a cold severe enough to land me in bed for three days on wife’s orders. I do not mention this to arouse the reader’s sympathy, only to draw attention to the truth of what Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) said in his essay “Ordered South”: “it is not altogether ill with the invalid, after all.”

By the time he wrote this, Stevenson was “a mere complication of cough and bones,” thanks to the tuberculosis that was to kill him, so he was hardly speaking out of turn or from the callowness of youth. My illness was, of course, trivial by comparison with his: severe enough to let me rest, but not serious enough to prevent me …

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