The traditional consultation is a dinosaur; to be fit for purpose it must adapt to an ever changing world. But until now our hands have been tied because the doctor-patient relationship is unequal. Patients can blithely lie to our faces while we are expected to be honest and truthful; it’s like a medical dhimmitude. Well, I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.
“Honestly, doc,” said Joe smugly, unaware of my new arrangements. “I don’t smoke.”
“Joe,” I said, giving him one last chance. “Your fingers and teeth are stained the colour of horse manure, and your breath would asphyxiate a hyena. I’m asking you again: do you smoke?”
“Not one puff,” he said defiantly.
The gauntlet had been thrown down, so dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, and two burly colonels marched in.
“These gentlemen are from the US embassy,” I said.
“I don’t believe it,” said Joe. “Let me see your badges.”
“Badges? We don’t need no steenking badges,” they said, setting exactly the right tone. They grabbed Joe, pushing him back on the couch. I produced a rag and a large jug of water, placed the rag over his mouth, and started pouring.
“Water boarding is of ancient provenance,” I said conversationally, the sound of gagging an almost musical counterpoint in the background. “It was first used by the Inquisition, you know; those Catholics could teach us a thing or two. Water boarding sounds quite nice, doesn’t it, rather refreshing, like a mountain stream, like surf boarding. Goes to show: names can be misleading. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, I don’t think so. Now, once again, do you smoke?”
“All right, all right,” he sobbed, after exactly 17 seconds (thereby lasting longer than Christopher Hitchens or the average CIA operative). “I confess, I smoke like a train, and by the way, care assistants aren’t being adequately trained, Donald Trump’s hair is fake, and Bin Laden is in Pakistan. Check out the big house in Abbottabad with all the barbed wire; he’ll be hiding in the bedroom.”
The colonels stood Joe up, saluted smartly, and left, administering one last hefty kick to the kidneys in a graceful American gesture of farewell.
“This is an outrage,” he said, shaken and white faced. “That was torture.”
“I’m rebranding it, Joe,” I said. “That was enhanced consultation.”