Recently, a colleague told me a story that cracked me up. A friend of his finally went to hospital after months of assorted aches and pains which he would either ignore or “treat” with over-the-counter drugs.
The doctor that saw him at the private hospital he went to informed him that it was not possible for him to make a conclusive diagnosis unless he did a couple of tests.
Keen on getting to the bottom of his poor health, the man told the doctor to go ahead and do what he must do.
After a couple of hours, he was informed that the results were ready. He, of course, expected the diagnosis to be a long one, going by the battery of tests he had been subjected to. He was wrong.
“Stop eating meat,” the doctor announced.
The man was at a loss for words for a long minute. And then he blurted out, “you can’t be serious!”
After which he proceeded to give the doctor an impassioned speech about why he had absolutely no intention of giving up meat.
It turns out that this man had grown up in abject poverty — the only time he and his siblings saw meat was once a year on Christmas Day at a relative’s home.
When he was old enough, he moved away from his home in rural Murang’a to the Nairobi city centre in such of greener pastures.
He hustled for decades, finally “making it” about eight years ago. He could now afford to have as much meat as he wanted.
After giving the stunned doctor a detailed account of his deprived childhood, he informed him that under no circumstances would he stop eating meat, having been denied it almost all his life.
“Just give me medicine, I am ready to pay for it,” he concluded.
This colleague tells me that this man, in total disregard of the doctor’s orders, still eats meat as if there’s no tomorrow. When the aches and pains surface, he pops some pills and takes more meat.
I was in the company of another colleague when this story was being told. After she was done laughing, she told us that she understands where this man is coming from.
When she got married, her husband, convinced her that farming was the side hustle that would make them rich, informed her that he had applied for a loan in his Sacco, with which he intended to buy cows, pigs and hens.
She went into such a panic, she almost fainted. When she recovered from her trauma, she informed her husband that under no circumstances would she become a farmer’s wife.
Turns out that her parents had been subsistence farmers who, besides owning a small shamba where they grew their food, a shamba that she and her siblings helped to till, also owned a cow.
Being the firstborn, when her parents were not there to do the milking, which was often, she would do it. That and looking for the majani (cow feed), fetching water and firewood and a host of other chores that many of those who grew up in the rural areas are familiar with.
And that is how her husband’s dream side hustle died before it even began.
Obviously, even though many times we are unconscious about it, our backgrounds greatly influence many of the choices we make, our thinking, as well as how we act and react in different situations.
PS: I think it is only fitting that I share this here since we’re talking about doctors. A friend of a friend almost dropped dead after a doctor wrote ‘STI’ on his diagnosis.
Turns out the doctor meant “Soft Tissue Injury”.
The writer is Editor, My Network magazine, in the Daily Nation [email protected]